Facebook is going to start testing subscriptions to certain video streaming services that can be viewed inside its “Watch” hub, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal.
The services being tested are the BBC-owned BritBox, Tastemade Plus, Discovery Communications’ MotorTrend on Demand and Dropout, a network from CollegeHumor.
As an example, the Dropout subscription will cost $4.99 a month for all of the service’s original programming, as well as the ability to have chat-enabled virtual watch parties with other viewers. There will also be a new feature that will catalog all of the streaming content.
Subscribers will also be able to watch on Facebook apps on other platforms, like the Roku and Apple TV. Facebook will take a cut of subscription fees.
Facebook is also reportedly in talks with major streaming services like HBO, Starz and Showtime about providing their content to watch on the social media channel.
Services like Amazon, Hulu and Apple already “resell” services to users. For example, Prime Video subscribers made up 35 percent of HBO Now subscribers at the end of 2018.
Watch was started by Facebook about two years with the intention of culling more advertising revenue from videos. It has been putting money into professionally produced shows, such as a reboot of MTV’s “The Real World.”
The company has heavy competition in the space. YouTube said in May that it had two billion monthly users, an increase from 1.9 billion a year before. Facebook said in June that it had 720 million users who spend at least 60 seconds on Watch, up from 400 million in December.
This is the first time Facebook is trying in earnest to sell subscriptions directly to users without an intermediary, illustrating the company’s eagerness to enter the video streaming business.