Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel and Firefly are coming to Facebook Watch through a deal with 20th Century Fox Television, as the social network looks to use the lure of nostalgia to attract viewers and spark conversation.
The non-exclusive deal brings every episode from every season to Watch, beginning today.
Fidji Simo, Facebook’s VP Video, said the social network is looking for content that people want to discuss and create a community around. It’s had success with live sports like UEFA Champions League in Latin America; compelling shows like Sorry For Your Loss, starring Elizabeth Olsen as a young woman whose husband has just died; or nostalgia content like the Real World reboot coming to Watch next year.
“When we started asking people what can trigger conversations, (nostalgic content) came up as something that’s really interesting to have on the platform,” Simo said. “It’s really a way to test this hypothesis.”
These new Fox shows allow Facebook to tap into existing communities of passionate fans, and give them a new way to experience the these shows. Facebook users can host “watch parties” from their Timeline, and virtually gather together a group of friends to watch episodes together.
Buffy star Sarah Michelle Gellar announced the news to her fans with a promo video debuted as a Facebook Premiere on her Facebook Page — a direct appeal that’s calculated to get the conversation started.
CNBC reported that Facebook Watch has begun focusing on audiences ages 30 and older, rather than chase the teens and younger millennials that rival YouTube has successfully captured. It notes that despite spending $1 billion on original content, Watch has been slow to catch on with viewers. In August, Facebook reported that about 50 million U.S. users each month view Watch content — a fraction of the 1.8 billion viewers who check out YouTube each month.
Facebook is focusing its programming efforts on shows that appeal to post-college-age viewers: like Jada Pinkett Smith, star of the talk show Red Table Talk, CNBC reported.
Simo offered a different explanation. She said Facebook has successfully tapped into young female audiences, ages 18 to 24, with original shows like Kerry Washington’s teen drama, Five Points, which follows the trials and tribulations of five teens in a South Side Chicago high school, and SKAM Austin, a show that offers realistic and authentic stories from the lives of American teenagers.
It’s looking for a diverse set of shows with global appeal that resonate with broad range of audiences.
“It’s very clear that we’re having success with these younger audiences, but we also care about the older ones,” Simo said. “We really want to address everyone.”