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Live, on Facebook, It's Something Like TV but Not Exactly TV

E! will stream a daily infotainment show in your feed, starting today.

E! via Variety
Peter Kafka covers media and technology, and their intersection, at Vox. Many of his stories can be found in his Kafka on Media newsletter, and he also hosts the Recode Media podcast.

Facebook likes video and Facebook likes live video. So Facebook is going to get what it wants.

Here’s the latest example: The E! Entertainment cable channel is going to start streaming a daily infotainment show via Facebook, starting today at 12:30 pm ET.

“Live From E!” is already available via the network’s site and app, but Variety reports that the NBCUniversal-owned network* is re-tooling the show so it works particularly well on the social network:

“‘Live From E!’ has been completely redeveloped for Facebook, optimized for the single-camera Facebook Live viewing platform with the E! News hosts speaking directly to viewers. The set also is getting a facelift, with a new desk to better fit the screen size and a 60-inch monitor to let the digital audience see and hear in-show content such as B-roll, stills, commentary, questions and graphics in the same shot as the hosts’ discussion.”

I’m still not clear that people want to watch things that look like TV, but less good, on the Web and on their phone. Especially since Web video people have been trying that strategy (“It’s like ‘Charlie Rose’! Except hosted by someone you’ve never heard of, interviewing someone you’ve never heard of!”) for a decade with little success.

Still, you’re going to see more of it, since Facebook says that’s what it wants. Facebook is willing to pay (a little bit) to get famous people to create live video, but in general it’s not going to have to pay anyone a penny. It doesn’t even have to share revenue with livestreaming partners, since there’s no way to make money from livestreaming, at least for now.

But the notion that Facebook will eventually create a revenue opportunity is too tantalizing for Facebook’s partners to ignore. There’s also the stick side of that equation: Partners and publishers worry that if they don’t give Facebook what Facebook wants, Facebook will make it harder to find the other stuff they put on Facebook. (Facebook, of course, has no idea what you’re talking about.)

If live video on Facebook or Twitter or anywhere else ends up working, the odds are pretty high that it won’t end up looking anything like TV. Instead, it will have its own vocabulary and expectations. Still, it has to evolve from somewhere: As any New Media Commentator can tell you, regular TV first started out as radio plays, etc,.

The one big, possible outlier here would be if Facebook actually gets its hands on real live TV that people actually want to watch: Award shows or big-time sports. And that’s what it’s trying to do, by acquiring the digital rights to the NFL’s Thursday night games.

Facebook is bidding against Amazon and Verizon (and perhaps others) for the games, and some people involved in that process thought it might be wrapped up before the NFL owners’ meetings that started this week. Didn’t happen, but we should still hear about a winner soon.

* NBCUniversal is owned by Comcast, which is an investor in Vox Media, which owns this site.

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