Five brings TV to Facebook

Five is set to become the first broadcaster to show TV programmes on Facebook.

Channel Five

The companies have struck a deal which will see Five’s TV-on-demand player Demand Five embedded into Facebook.

The deal means that within the next few weeks Facebook’s 26m UK users – more than a third of the population – will be able to watch Five’s TV catch-up content, including The Gadget Show, CSI Miami, Neighbours and Home & Away, within Facebook.

According to sources close to the development, the deal is “all systems go” and the player is already being embedded into Facebook. “It will launch within the next week to ten days,” they said.

The move signals the latest step in Five’s digital expansion strategy, arriving ahead of the relaunch of Demand Five this autumn (nma 1 July 2010). It represents an evolution of strategy for Facebook too, which had previously positioned itself as a communications platform rather than being a destination site hosting professional content.

No other broadcaster has struck such a close tie-up with Facebook to date. The BBC’s upgraded iPlayer, which went into beta in May, enables content to be shared on Twitter and Facebook, and users can tap into the social networks once they have registered for a BBC ID ( 26 May 2010). However, the BBC is restricted from embedding it in Facebook due to its syndication policy, under review by the BBC Trust.

ITV has been reluctant to sign third-party syndication deals. An ITV spokeswoman said, “Viewers are consuming content on a range of platforms to suit their lifestyles, so we want our content to be available when and where they want to watch it. We’re considering options for this.”

A Channel 4 spokeswoman said, “We work closely with Facebook, which is an exciting platform. Our viewers already enjoy Channel 4 content across a number of groups and pages on Facebook and we’ll continue to work closely with it.”

Enders analyst Ian Maude said the deal is a “very smart move” for both Five and Facebook. “If your business is about reaching as many eyeballs as possible, it makes absolute sense to do so on Facebook, especially for a broadcaster like Five that has a relatively small reach online.”

He added the deal will also enrich Facebook’s offering, making it more of a content site. “It’s a win-win situation for both,” he said.

It could also make a “significant difference” to Five’s on-demand ad revenue, according to Maude. The challenge for broadcasters is that because advertising is their primary revenue source, they’re loath to give any of it up, he said, adding that the negotiation between Facebook and Five over ad sales is likely to be tough. “Five already has a syndication template to work from as a result of its tie-up with YouTube,” he said.

While it’s not yet known if the YouTube syndication model will be applied to this latest deal, Five is likely to be keen to keep a high proportion, if not all, of ad revenues that flow from the Facebook deal.

Five has already launched content via Facebook with the cross-platform drama Push, which premiered yesterday (Wednesday) on air and online, including Facebook. The broadcaster – working with ETV Media, show producer Camden Creative and distributor Endemol International – will air ten half-hour weekly episodes on Fiver, and will continue the story online with daily one-minute mini-episodes, that can be watched on, Facebook and on show sponsor Rimmel London’s site.

The London-based drama blurs fiction with real life and will react to real events in the fashion world in the run-up to London Fashion Week.

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