THE NUMBER OF LIVE VIDEOS posted to The New York Times’ main Facebook page has consistently surpassed regular videos in the 12 months since Facebook began paying select media partners to use its nascent streaming platform—yet viewing figures for Facebook Live lag far behind. The Times is one of about 140 media companies and celebrities the platform giant enticed to produce content for Facebook Live through deals totalling a reported $50 million last year. According to The Wall Street Journal, the 12-month deal signed by the Times was worth $3.03 million, a figure surpassed only by the $3.05 million Facebook paid to BuzzFeed.
“The first year of Facebook Live epitomizes why social platforms are centerstage in the existential crisis around journalism. Despite the fact publishers are fighting a losing battle for digital advertising revenue, most feel unable to disregard the eye-watering scale social platforms can deliver. In the case of Live, publishers create content that not only directs users to Facebook but keeps them there, further strengthening Facebook’s hand with advertisers—all, presumably, in the hope that they will eventually benefit from a share of the spoils. Yet it remains a relationship premised on potential: the promise of jam tomorrow”