Facebook Watch has been a roller-coaster ride for video creators and publishers since the social network debuted the video platform in August 2017. After a slow start, in 2018 Facebook rolled out Watch globally, and its mid-roll ads began to generate better revenue for creators and publishers, increasing confidence that Facebook could legitimately contend with YouTube. But through the start of 2019, Watch appears to have hit a rough patch, at least for creators.
In the latest in our Confessions series, where we exchange anonymity for honesty, a video creator with more than half a million followers on Facebook Watch said that monetization has been weaker in 2019, creator support from Facebook has been lacking and issues with reach and Facebook’s publishing tool have made Facebook’s video platform inconsistent for creators and YouTube’s more alluring by comparison. The creator said they are raising these issues in the hopes that Facebook will make changes to address them. The conversation has been edited for length and clarity.
You have a show on Facebook Watch that has more than a half-million followers, but you’re considering redirecting your viewers to watch you on YouTube instead. Why?
It’s just due to a lack of stability in the Facebook platform. There are so many changes on a month-to-month basis; it’s really a hard environment to thrive in. Some months, it’s great on Facebook. Some months, they’re doing an update or tweaking the algorithm. They’ve had a lot of issues lately where Facebook’s not even functional, and if you’re posting episodes at the same time, nobody’s watching those. And there’s not the communication with the creators on it. I’m still doing stuff with Facebook and still want to do stuff and want Facebook to be successful. But when stuff is so haphazard, you want to have stability, whereas a creator, you create income to keep making videos.
You fund your show out of your own pockets. Are you able to make that money back through Facebook?
This is on Facebook’s plus side. I have done really well over the last year. I’ve made more money than I’ve spent on the show. But the reality of the situation is, when you’re self-funding it, if you get a month when there’s almost no revenue, you’re just like, how in the world did it go from pulling significant income to suddenly you can’t buy a Big Mac with what you pulled in. You wonder, do I make next month’s videos? Overall, if you averaged it out, I’ve done well with Facebook. But what Facebook is doing wrong is the lack of consistency. YouTube has its flaws too, but I’m looking more at it just because it’s been more stable.