SAN FRANCISCO — Facebook is testing a new feature that lets people exclusively watch video in a fresh challenge to Google-owned YouTube to become the No. 1 online destination for video clips.
The world’s most popular social network is testing a dedicated spot for video, Will Cathcart, vice president of product management at Facebook, said Tuesday.
The new button helps users find videos they want to watch rather than having to scroll through their News Feed. The feature is accessed by tapping a “videos” icon at the bottom of the Facebook app on iPhone or in the “favorites” section on the left-hand side of News Feed on the Web.
“We’ll be testing this with a small number of people now, so this isn’t something most people will see on Facebook right away,” Cathcart said in a blog post.
Facebook is fast becoming a hub for online video. Already 4 billion videos are watched each day on Facebook, most of them on mobile devices. Now Facebook is stepping up its bid for the time viewers currently spend on YouTube and for the advertising dollars that come with it.
“We have been testing a number of new features that give people more flexibility when watching videos, whether you’re watching a video in News Feed on-the-go or sitting down to enjoy multiple videos back-to-back,” Cathcart said.
Facebook is testing “suggested” videos on iPhone which offer related videos after a user taps on a video from his or her News Feed. Most iPhone users now have the feature and Facebook is testing ads on it. “We are also starting to test this on the web, and plan to test on Android phones in the coming months,” Cathcart said.
Another feature Facebook is testing: the ability to watch a video in a floating screen while “simultaneously multitasking on Facebook.” Facebook is also testing a button that will save a video to be watched later. Publishers are getting new features, too, a video matching technology and new video tools for Pages.
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