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It’s official: Facebook wants to be your next TV

Mark Zuckerberg says he wants people to come to Facebook to watch “episodic content.” (And yes, Facebook is a media company.)

Facebook Exhibits Technologies At Innovation Hub Sean Gallup / Getty

Facebook has long wanted to compete with TV for ad dollars — it boasted TV-sized audiences and liked to talk about people using Facebook alongside their favorite shows or the big game.

Now Facebook is saying, out loud, that it doesn’t just want to compete with TV. It wants to be your TV.

On the company’s Q4 earnings call Wednesday, CEO Mark Zuckerberg talked about his vision for Facebook video. Zuckerberg wants people to think of Facebook when they have the thought, “I want to watch video content now,” which sounds exactly like what you might use television or Netflix or HBO for today.

Here’s how Zuckerberg described his vision for Facebook’s video tab, a relatively new, video-only feed inside the core Facebook app:

“The goal that we have for the product experience is to make it so that when people want to watch videos or want to keep up to date with what’s going on with their favorite show, or what’s going on with a public figure that they want to follow, that they can come to Facebook and go to a place knowing that that’s going to show them all the content that they’re interested in. That’s a pretty different intent than why people come to Facebook today. ... The experience is designed to deliver on that promise — [that] you want to watch videos, you want to keep up with the content that you watch episodically week over week. This is going to be the place where you go to do that.”

Facebook has said publicly in the past that it plans to pay for high-quality video content. It’s currently in the market to license TV-style shows. Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal reported that it has a Facebook video app in the works for Apple TV and other TV boxes.

But Zuckerberg has never been quite this blunt about the company’s video ambitions. The idea of episodic content, stuff that gets people to come back week after week, seems like a key priority.

Zuckerberg said that Facebook needs to figure out a business model to entice video makers to create stuff for the social network, and specifically mentioned mid-roll ads, which the company is starting to test, as Facebook’s plan moving forward.

“That is going to enable the kind of content that’s going to take this to the next level,” he said. “A lot of the best episodic content is professionally created, and those folks need to make a good amount of money in order to support their business model.”

And even though Facebook has never admitted that it’s a traditional media company, paying creators for content sure makes Facebook sound like a traditional media company.

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