Facebook on Monday announced a number of updates aimed at video creators and publishers, during a session at the International Broadcasting Convention (IBC) taking place in Amsterdam. The updates involve changes to live video broadcasting, Facebook’s Watch Party, and Creator Studio, and they include enhancements to tools, expanded feature sets, and improved analytics, among other things.
The highlights include better ways to prep for and simulcast live broadcasts, ways to take better advantage of Watch Party events, new metrics to track video performance, and a much-anticipated option to schedule Instagram/IGTV content for up to six months’ in advance.
In terms of live video, Facebook says it listened to feedback from those who have been broadcasting live on its platform, and is now rolling out several highly-requested features to Facebook Pages (not Profiles.) The changes are an attempt to better accommodate professional broadcasters who want to use Facebook’s live broadcasting capabilities instead of or in addition to other platforms, like YouTube.
Through the Live API, publishers can now use a “rehearsal” feature to broadcast live only to Page admins and editors in order to test new production setups, interactive features, and show formats before going live to a full audience. QVC has tested this feature, as they broadcast live on Facebook for hundreds of hours per month, and have wanted to try out new workflows and formats.
Publishers will also be able to trim the beginning and end of a live video, and can live broadcast for as long as 8 hours — double the previous limit of 4 hours.
This latter capability has already been used by NASA, who broadcast an 8-hour long spacewalk, for example, and it also leaves room for broadcasting things like live sports, news events, and Twitch-like gaming broadcasts.
Most notably, perhaps, is that the company realizes live broadcasters need to serve their audiences outside of Facebook. Now, publishers will be able to use apps that let them stream to more than one streaming service at once, by simulcasting via the Live API.
Live video recently rolled out to Facebook Lite, as well, the company also noted.
Facebook additionally announced a few new updates for its co-watching feature, Watch Party, which include the ability for Pages to schedule a party in advance to build anticipation, support for “replays” that will let others enjoy the video after airing, the ability to tag business partners in branded content, and new analytics.
As for the latter, two new metrics are being added to Creator Studio: Minutes Viewed and Unique 60s Viewers (total number of unique users that watched at least 60 seconds in a Watch Party.) These complement existing metrics like reach and engagement.
The Live Commenting feature, which allows a host to go live in a Watch Party to share their own commentary, is also now globally available.
And wrapping all this up is an update to Creator Studio, which is what publishers use to post, manage, monetize and measure their content across both Facebook and Instagram.
The dashboard will soon add a new visualization layer in Loyalty Insights to help creators see which videos loyal fans want to see, by measuring which videos drive return viewers.
A new Distribution metric will score each video’s performance based on the Page’s historic average on a range of metrics, including: 1 Minute Views, Average Minutes Watched, and Retention. This feature, rolling out in the next few months, will offer an easy-to-read snapshot of a video’s performance.
Creator Studio will also now support 13 more languages for auto-captioning: Arabic, Chinese, German, Hindi, Italian, Malay, Russian, Tagalog, Tamil, Thai, Turkish, Urdu, and Vietnamese. These are in addition to those languages already available, which included English, French, Portuguese and Spanish.
Instagram & IGTV Scheduling
And finally, publishers and creators will be able to publish and schedule their Instagram Feed and IGTV content for up to 6 months. In a few more months, Instagram Feed and IGTV drafting and editing will also become available, the company says.
This feature was already spotted in the wild before today’s announcement, and sent the social media management and influencer community abuzz. It also follows an update to the Instagram API last year to allow scheduling by third-party applications. However, a native feature is not as limited as some of those other options.
The feature is now open to all creators and publishers with Facebook Pages, whereas before some were seeing it labeled only as “coming soon” or were not able to get it working. Story scheduling is not yet included here, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see it added further down the road.