Facebook Greenlights Two New Original Series As Part Of Expanded Push Into Video

Facebook is moving forward with its push into video content, greenlighting two new original series.

Returning the Favor features Mike Rowe (Somebody’s Gotta Do It) as he travels the country searching for people who put their community over themselves and shines a spotlight on their contributions. A recently filmed episode, which Rowe teased on his Facebook page, focuses on a motorcycle mechanic who runs an operation helping vets with PTSD.

The second project is a yet-to-be-titled docuseries about the Ball family, whose sons Lonzo, Liangelo and LaMelo have taken the basketball world by storm. Freshman UCLA star Lonzo Ball was chosen by the Los Angeles Lakers as their No. 2 pick in the NBA Draft last month. Liangelo and LaMelo are stand-outs at Chino Hills High School.

The number and length of episodes of both series is still to be determined.

The expanded push into video began more than a year ago, when Ricky Van Veen moved from IAC to Facebook to become its head of global creative strategy.

The company is looking to seed an ecosystem of creators with the long-term goal of having creators and partners make their own shows that a community can be built around. The company has been testing a new self-service tool called Audience Direct that lets publishers sell video ad space directly to advertisers using Facebook’s people-based advertising platform. The new series demonstrate the type of content that Facebook believes would do well on such platforms .

“Our goal is to make Facebook a place where people can come together around video,” Nick Grudin, VP Media Partnerships said earlier. “To help get there, we’re supporting a small group of partners and creators as they experiment with the kinds of shows you can build a community around — from sports to comedy to reality to gaming. We’re focused on episodic shows and helping all our partners understand what works across different verticals and topics. We’re funding these shows directly now, but over time we want to help lots of creators make videos funded through revenue sharing products like Ad Break.”

In addition to the new original content, Facebook also has been looking at streaming of live sports events like UEFA Champions League soccer matches. Execs believe that could enable the company to connect better with younger audiences, and in turn, drive up advertising revenues, as well as offering more content from its media partners along with individual creators.

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