Facebook has signed deals worth over $50m with nearly 140 media companies and celebrities to create original video content for its Facebook Live video feature, the Wall Street Journal reported. The move comes as part of the social networking giant's fervent push to promote its live-streaming service and video content and keep its more than 1.65 billion monthly users engaged.
According to a document received by the Wall Street Journal, some of the media companies include the New York Times, CNN, Vox Media, Mashable, the Huffington Post and Tastemade. The listed celebrities include Gordon Ramsay, Kevin Hart, Deepak Chopra and NFL quarterback Russell Wilson. Although the individual deals vary in value across the board, the WSJ reports that 17 contracts are worth more than $1m each.
Buzzfeed, which is reportedly slated to receive $3.05m for its live-streaming content between March 2016 and March 2017, is the highest-paid publisher on the list. The New York Times comes in second with a $3.03m contract, followed by CNN with $2.5m. Food and travel video producer Tastemade will receive around $1m for a 12-month contract.
The list includes the American Museum of Natural History in New York, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, music DJs Armin Van Buuren and Hardwell, sports team FC Barcelona as well as internet personalities Andrew Bachelor, Lele Pons and Logan Paul.
"We wanted to invite a broad set of partners so we could get feedback from a variety of different organisations about what works and what doesn't," Facebook's vice president of global operations and media partnerships Justin Osofsky said in a statement to the WSJ.
However, the WSJ does note that the list of media partners does not include all of Facebook's live streaming contracts and partnerships, which means the company is possibly spending more than $50m on these deals.
In March, Recode reported that Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg was approaching talent agencies and celebrities' representatives in Los Angeles and offering to pay them to generate live video content. Facebook's live-streaming feature was first launched for celebrities and other public figures in 2015 to take on rivals such as Meerkat, Twitter's Periscope and Snapchat before it was eventually rolled out to the general public.
Although the company is still figuring out how to monetise its new live-streaming platform and tap into the growing digital video advertising market, it has proven to be a fruitful one so far in terms of popularity and views. Numerous viral live videos have raked in millions of views for the company, from Buzzfeed's exploding watermelon (10.7 million views) to the Chewbacca Mom video (157 million views).
News of Facebook ramping up its video efforts comes just days after Tumblr announced live-streaming support via YouTube, YouNow, Kanvas and Upclose. Last week, Facebook's VP for EMEA, Nicola Mendelsohn, predicted that the social network could become "all video" within five years.
In January, the company reported that users watch an estimated 100 million hours of video in their news feed daily. According to Mendelsohn, "engagement is much higher" for live videos compared to pre-recorded video.