India is now a video-first internet market: Facebook’s Manish Chopra

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Chopra, Facebook India Director and Head of Partnerships, speaks to e4m about FB Watch, plans for 2021, and future of video content in India

Social media giant Facebook is betting big on video consumption in India. The platform has been signing up content deals with leading brands across sports, entertainment, news, and lifestyle genres.

Some of Facebook Watch’s partners include Sony Pictures Network India, ICC, Times Group (Filmfare Awards), and IIFA Awards besides India’s leading music labels such as T-Series, Zee Music, Yash Raj Films, and Saregama. The platform had also launched ‘Viru ki Baithak’ as an exclusive show on Facebook around the previous edition of IPL.
In an interaction with exchange4media, Facebook India Director and Head of Partnerships Manish Chopra said that the company is looking at collaborations across its four key focus areas in 2021. India, he said, is one of the leading markets for Watch.


What are your plans for Facebook Watch in 2021?
For the year 2021, we will continue to support our partners and creators every step of the way and endeavour to share more unique experiences with users on the platform. We aim to introduce more offerings for our Facebook community to connect with their friends and families seamlessly, along with new exciting products and features. We will continue to build new tools so partners/creators can diversify their revenue and expand their presence on Facebook. We are also looking forward to some exciting collaborations across our key focus areas of sports, entertainment, news, and lifestyle which will help unlock more engaging experiences for users across demographics.

How has the growth been for Facebook Watch in India since its launch?
Facebook Watch has shown massive growth and traction globally and India is one of the leading markets for Watch. Today, more than 1.25 billion people visit Watch globally every month to discover and share videos from millions of creators and publishers.

In India, we expect continued growth to come from video on Facebook Watch through our constant efforts to invest in movies, music, and cricket and work with the creator, media partners, and public figures to drive engagement and offer the community the content that is most relevant to them.


Some of the recent partnerships include with Sony Pictures Network India for the ongoing India-Australia series, ICC – as their exclusive digital content rights partner across their events till 2023, Filmfare Awards, IIFA Awards as well as our partnerships with India’s leading music labels such as T-Series, Zee Music, Yash Raj Films, Saregama.

2020 was a landmark year for video platforms. Can you share the kind of uptake that Facebook Watch witnessed in 2020?
India is now a video first internet market. 70-80% of all data in the country is on video. Given the predominant role of video in driving online consumption and social experiences in India, it is a huge priority for us. Over the past year, the video has become one of the most important sources of entertainment and source of learning for consumers. We are increasingly seeing Facebook being used by
people to connect and support each other in various ways.

This year under extraordinary circumstances, communities found ways to connect, learn, and grow through our platform. Live broadcasts from Pages in India have tripled in June 2020 compared to the same time last year. Facebook Live viewership jumped 50% as entertainment and culture moved online once the lockdown restrictions were put in place.

Some genres were more visible than others including food and fitness through creators including Sanjoyt Keer (Your Food Lab), Hebbar’s Kitchen, Fittr, to name a few.

Creativity thrived on Facebook, with DIY classes (Artkala4u), painting and decorating as well as concerts keeping people entertained. With the launch of the fundraiser feature in India, our ‘I for India’ fundraiser concert witnessed over 85 artists raise funds for people affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

What are the content consumption trends on Facebook Watch?
The audience on Facebook is extremely diverse and it’s important that we make Facebook Watch a place where anyone, anywhere, can find the most timely & culturally relevant videos they care about, spanning a wide range of topics and interests. We see content ranging from across genres be it comedy, fashion to entertainment, or sports connecting effectively with the audience.

This year, due to the lack of open spaces and maintaining social distance, sports content was well-received from consumers, becoming a big conversation driver. Our latest digital content partnership with Sony Pictures Networks India (SPNI) for the Indian national cricket team’s tour of Australia showcased exclusive video-on-demand match content and the most exciting moments from one of India’s most awaited overseas tours to cricket fans on Facebook Watch.

In the last couple of months, more and more artists (Madhuri Dixit turns singer, even debuted as her and launched her single ‘Candle’ exclusively on Facebook via Facebook Live) and businesses have used Facebook Live to engage with their audiences. Some genres that also came to the forefront are food, fitness, DIY, and virtual concerts.

What is your content strategy for Facebook Watch?
Video forms an important part of our India strategy given the predominant role of the medium in driving online consumption and social experiences in India. Facebook ‘Watch’ is built with the belief that watching a video can help you connect more deeply with people – it is not a solitary or passive experience. When you watch a video on Facebook Watch, you have unlimited ways to connect with people around video content that you love or find meaningful – you don’t just Watch on Facebook – you can comment, share, share Group messages, use reactions and polls, and hold Watch Parties.

Our video strategy for India is truly reflective of the width of consumer tastes in the country. We are investing in forging partnerships to bring culturally relevant, of-the-moment videos across sports, entertainment, news, and lifestyle. Our work with LaLiga in India, ICC, Sony Pictures Network embodies our vision for content on Facebook Watch when it comes to sports, allowing for active engagement with sports fans across India via engaging shows and interactive broadcasts.

We have also strived to build more connected communities around music and entertainment as a whole by enabling people to express themselves and helping artists and fans to connect in deeper, more authentic ways. We recently introduced official music videos on the platform and launched a new Music destination on Facebook Watch in India, to allow people to view their favourite music videos and come together through music.

We have also entered into a strategic partnership with Worldwide Media, for its iconic Filmfare Awards franchise.

What are your key focus areas as far as content acquisition for Facebook Watch is concerned?
Our focus is on content that encourages conversations and connections, as well as supporting a wide range of partners globally as they create high-quality videos spanning a range of interests and passions, from live sports, entertainment to niche content and videos that take advantage of Facebook’s unique interactive features, like polling and Watch Parties. We work with creators, media partners to showcase the content that is most culturally relevant to our community – from entertainment, sports, news, and music. For example, we recently launched ‘Viru ki Baithak’ as an exclusive show on Facebook around the latest edition of IPL. The daily show hosted on Facebook Watch and IGTV featured cricket legend Virender Sehwag, giving key daily insights on the ongoing IPL in his entertaining and inimitable style.

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