Peter Kafka

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Facebook Says It’s Pretty Good at TV, Too

miley cyrus VMS instagram Facebook Mipcom Dan RosePerhaps you’ve heard: Twitter is really into TV.

Dick Costolo and company have spent the last couple of years honing their pitch, which they are shouting as often as possible in the run-up to their IPO: Twitter can deliver eyeballs to TV, and TV can deliver dollars to Twitter.

Up until this summer, Facebook didn’t try muscling into Twitter’s would-be virtuous cycle. But, for whatever reason,* Facebook has changed gears, and is now making its own TV pitch, with increasing frequency.

You can see the latest version below, via a 25-minute presentation that Dan Rose, Facebook’s vice president of partnerships, made yesterday at Mipcom, the European TV conference.

Rose’s speech is basically an entry-level social TV explainer, so if you’ve been following this stuff you won’t find anything new here. A Facebook-specific TLDR:

  • Social TV isn’t new, and Facebook has been doing it for a long time. Remember when they got Betty White on SNL?
  • Facebook is really big.
  • Not only is Facebook much bigger than Twitter, but you know everyone’s name on Facebook, which makes what happens on Facebook more useful to its users (and presumably to programmers/advertisers): “These conversations aren’t taking place between a bunch of anonymous strangers … these are real conversations between real people, based on real identity. More than any other platform, Facebook mirrors the way people have always engaged in conversations about TV — with the people who really matter to them.”**
  • Celebrities and brands are totally using Facebook! Miley Cyrus used Instagram to hype her totally-scandalous-but-now-we-seem-to-be-ok-with-it VMA performance. And here’s a picture of a panda on a rocking horse from Ricky Gervais, and Rose says it has stirred his interest in watching the comedian’s “Derek” on Netflix. This seems unlikely. But, okay.

* Maybe Facebook left social TV alone because it didn’t think there was real money there. Or maybe it left it alone because it had other priorities. Or maybe it’s making noise now because it would like to capitalize on and/or interfere with Twitter’s IPO run-up. Maybe all of the above.

** Twitter’s answer to this argument, by the way, is that its TV conversations are better because they’re happening in “real time” or something close to it, while Facebook chatter is more diffuse.


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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik