Facebook Watch: What It Is and How To Use It

Elizabeth Olsen's Facebook Watch series Sorry For Your Loss viewed on a laptop.

Kiattisak Lamchan / EyeEm / Getty

Facebook Watch is Facebook's video-on-demand service that combines aspects of its video sharing functionality with premium content. It allows creators to upload their own short- and long-form videos, but it also includes original comedy, drama, and news programming. The service is free, but it does require a Facebook account.

What is Facebook Watch, and How Does it Work?

Facebook Watch is built into Facebook, can be accessed through the main Facebook website and the Facebook app on mobile platforms and streaming devices. It can be found on its own Watch tab, which is similar to the Marketplace and Messenger tabs.

Facebook Watch isn't a cable replacement service. It's more like YouTube than YouTube TV, because it doesn't include live television from networks or cable channels. It also has a lot in common with Instagram TV, which is Instagram's entry into the YouTube-dominated field of user-generated content.

Facebook Watch includes a mixture of content from users and professionally-produced content Facebook pays to have produced. It's a lot like YouTube Premium, which includes regular YouTube videos and exclusive original programming, but Facebook Watch is free.

How to Use Facebook Watch

Before you can use Facebook Watch, you need a Facebook account. While you can technically navigate to the page for a Facebook Watch show and play the video without an account, doing so will result in multiple pop-up messages prompting you to sign up for Facebook.

If you have a Facebook account, you're ready to use Facebook Watch. Here's how it works:

  1. Navigate to Facebook.com.

  2. In the left menu bar, select Watch.

    Look for the TV icon below the News Feed and Messenger options in the navigation pane.

  3. That's it!

Facebook Watch is like Messenger or Marketplace, in that it's highly integrated with Facebook, but it exists as an extra thing that's separate from the main News Feed.

Once you've opened Facebook Watch, you have a few ways to find videos:

  • Editor's picks: Some of the most popular Facebook Watch videos are available via a large banner at the top of the main Facebook Watch site. Select the arrow on the right side of the banner to cycle through these options.
  • Top picks: Facebook Watch has an algorithm that attempts to find videos you'll be interested in based on your location, interests, hobbies, and videos you've watched in the past. The rest of the Facebook Watch main site is populated by these automatically chosen videos.
  • Search: Select the Search Video field and type the name of a show you're looking for. For instance, typing "Sorry For Your Loss" would bring up the Facebook Watch exclusive show of the same name.
  • Watchlist: If you select Follow on any video or show, it's added to your watchlist. You can select Latest Videos or Saved Videos in the Watchlist section of Facebook Watch to access these shows whenever you want.

What Channels Does Facebook Watch Have?

Unlike most cable replacement services, Facebook Watch doesn't have channels. It's closer to YouTube, in that individual programs on the service have Show Pages where you can find all the episodes, read more about them, see what other people think about the show, and interact with other viewers.

The Facebook Watch show page for Sorry For Your Loss.

Facebook Watch features a variety of content from creators who use the platform in the same way creators use YouTube and Instagram TV. If you follow creators from those platforms, there's a chance you'll also find them on Facebook Watch.

In addition to user-generated content, the service also finances Facebook Originals in the same vein as Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime. This exclusive content includes original comedy and drama programming, game shows, talk shows, and news programs.

Facebook Watch also includes live streaming sports content from the MLB, WWE, PGA, college football, and other sources.

Does Facebook Watch Have Commercials or Pay Creators?

Facebook Watch has two different ways creators can monetize their videos: Audience Network and Ad Break. Both of these methods involve inserting ads or short commercials into videos. If you watch a video on Facebook Watch, and the creator has monetized it, you'll have to watch commercials during the video.

  • Audience Network: This is geared toward larger publishers and creators of apps and games. It can be used to show ads from Facebook advertisers in apps, on websites, in Facebook Instant Articles, and in games, not just videos.
  • Ad Break: This is geared specifically toward creators who upload videos to Facebook Watch. To monetize your videos with Ad Break, your Facebook page needs to meet a number of metrics, including a minimum number of fans and a minimum number of minutes watched per video over a specific amount of time.

Can Anyone Upload to Facebook Watch?

Anyone can upload videos to Facebook, but not all of those videos end up in Facebook Watch. If you want your videos to show up in Facebook Watch, you need to upload them using a Page, not your personal account.

While Facebook Watch does share some similarities with YouTube and Instagram TV, you can't just sign up to Facebook, create a Page for your show, then expect your videos to show up in the service.

Here are some tips to help your videos show up in Facebook Watch:

  • Start a Facebook Page: If you don't already have a Facebook Page, you need one. This is different from your personal account, even if you name the page after yourself. The more followers your page has, and the more engagement you have with your fans, the more likely your show is to be picked up by Facebook Watch.
  • Don't use excessive promotion: Don't upload videos that play like direct advertisements for your business or products. If you have a business, and your Facebook Page promotes that business, your videos can be related to the same field, but they should be informational or entertaining.
  • Create professional-looking videos: Facebook Watch videos aren't all going to win Emmy awards, but they do need to have a higher production quality than the average YouTube video.
  • Produce several videos: If you have a series of videos ready to go, Facebook Watch is more likely to include your videos.

Facebook Watch Social Features and Watch Parties

Watch parties are a Facebook feature that allows group members to get together and watch the same video, or an entire watchlist of videos, together. The video is synced up, so everyone watches at the same time, and you can also discuss what's happening in real time by typing into a chat field in the Facebook Watch party window.

Watch parties are compatible with all forms of Facebook video, meaning you can use them to watch full-length comedies, dramas, and game shows, or you can populate a watch party queue with your own home movies.

Here's how to set up a watch party with Facebook Watch:

  1. Navigate to the Facebook page of a group you belong to.

  2. Select Watch Party.

  3. Enter a name and description for your watch party.

  4. Select Add Video.

  5. Select videos for your watch party.

  6. Select Post.

  7. The watch party post will immediately show up in the group's timeline, and the video will start playing. Make sure to pause the video if you want to wait for everyone to gather together so nobody misses anything.

Group members can select the post to join the watch party, where they'll be able to watch the video and comment in real time. It isn't exactly the same as watching a show with your friends in the same room, but it's the closest you're likely to get if your friends and family don't live in the same place.

How to Watch Facebook Watch on Mobile Devices

Facebook Watch is also available on mobile devices, and it doesn't even need a separate app. You can access Facebook Watch through the Facebook app on a limited number of other devices, including Amazon Fire TV and Xbox One.

Unlike Messenger, which requires you to download an additional app, you can access Facebook Watch from within the main Facebook app.

Here's where to get the Facebook app:

Here's how to use Facebook Watch on your phone:

  1. Launch the Facebook app.

  2. Tap the ☰ (three vertical lines) menu button.

  3. Tap Watch.

  4. Tap the show or video you want to watch.

In the Facebook app, you can easily navigate through all of the available Facebook Watch content by selecting your watchlist, the news tab, the shows tab, or the gaming tab.

  • Watchlist: Your Watchlist is populated by shows you follow. If you see something you like on Facebook Watch, tap the follow button and you'll be able to find it later in your Watchlist.
  • Facebook Watch News: The News tab is populated by live and previously recorded news videos from local and national sources. If you want to check out some quick news videos, this is the place to look.
  • Facebook Watch Shows: This is where you'll find the shows that make up the bulk of Facebook Watch content. You can scroll through the editor's picks, look through all of the shows to see if anything is interesting, or search for something specific.

The gaming section of Facebook Watch is a little more specialized since it represents Facebook's alternative to Twitch and Youtube Gaming. This is the section of Facebook Watch where you'll find both live game streams and previously recorded videos from some of your favorite streamers.