Update: September 5, 2017: Facebook's Watch section is now available to everyone in the U.S. To stream a show, click on "Watch" in the lefthand column and choose from the options listed. You can also look for episodes on individual show pages.
This piece was originally published on August 10, 2017.
The fight for your streaming attention is on, and Facebook has fired the latest shot. The social media giant has announced a new section called Watch, available on mobile and desktop, where you'll find shows.
Facebook's rollout of Watch follows last year's launch of the Video tab, which pulled all of your News Feed's video content into one place. Where Watch differs is in the types of videos it's offering: these are live and pre-recorded episodic shows of the traditional network TV variety (i.e. ones that will probably get you addicted and lead to epic binge-watching sessions). Both individuals and publishers, including Refinery29, will have original shows that live within Watch.
Within Watch, you'll find subsections — such as "Most Talked About" and "What Makes People Laugh" — intended to help you find new shows you'll like. These sections are not unlike Netflix's homepage, with its "Trending Now" and "Critically-Acclaimed" sections, which are helpful for discovering shows you might not otherwise find on your own, as well as the essential "Recently Added" section. A "Watchlist" within Watch compiles new episodes of the shows you follow and is similar to Netflix's "My List" feature.
The most distinctive section with Watch is one which ties back to the platform's social media roots: "What Friends Are Watching" tells you which shows your friends are currently fans of.
"We’ve learned from Facebook Live that people’s comments and reactions to a video are often as much a part of the experience as the video itself," Facebook director of product Daniel Danker wrote in a blog post announcing Watch. "So when you watch a show, you can see comments and connect with friends and other viewers while watching, or participate in a dedicated Facebook Group for the show."
Facebook's push into streaming is hardly surprising: Snapchat and YouTube have both announced a slew of original programming, with many shows launching this fall. Snapchat's shows are easier to binge watch — as most will run three to five minutes long — but YouTube is packing major star power with new shows starring Katy Perry and Demi Lovato.
In other words, expect to have a hard time deciding where you'll spend your streaming time, and which shows will be lucky enough to earn your loyalty. The good news is that all of these original shows are premiering closer to fall, when you'll have more of a reason to be indoors, curl up under a blanket, and stream, stream, stream.
If you don't see Watch yet, don't fret: The feature is rolling out slowly to select users starting today, and will continue to roll out to Facebook users in the coming weeks.