Facebook is getting into the digital game-show business with new live video features. BuzzFeed, Insider and Fresno, a digital video production company, will be the first to try out the interactive features in live shows.
Facebook is calling it the "gamification" of live video, and it's clearly meant to take on the phenomenon that is HQ Trivia, the nightly live quiz show app that can attract more than 2 million viewers at a time.
BuzzFeed News will host a game called "Outside Your Bubble" that pairs competitors with opposing cultural views to answer questions about each other. Insider, formerly Business Insider, will host a show called "Confetti," based on quizzes about pop culture. And Facebook is developing a game with Fresno called "What's in the Box," which will give prizes to people who, yeah, guess what's in the box.
Facebook, which has been trying to cater to individual creators—the internet personalities who once had only YouTube to find fame and ad revenue—is also giving them access to the same game-show functions. It announced Brent Rivera and That Chick Angel would be among the first to try them.
There's an element to the games that HQ Trivia doesn't have: friends. People will be able to see which of their Facebook friends are playing and how people they know are performing. (UPDATE: HQ Trivia points out that it has a "Friends on HQ" feature that does let players connect with contacts and track their play.)
"Talk shows have historically used studio audiences to create interactivity, but imagine if the entire viewing audience could participate in the content together," Facebook said in a blog post announcement that coincides with this week's VidCon in Anaheim, Calif. "Videos become more meaningful when people are active participants in the stories, and as viewing habits evolve, we want to enable content that's two-way."
Facebook, which has funded a number of video initiatives, declined to comment on whether it's paying the media companies for the game shows. (The company, for instance, recently paid CNN and Fox News to create daily news shows coming to the platform this summer.)
Game shows are a new twist in Facebook's ongoing and ever-changing relationship with digital publishers ready to try whatever new format that comes their way. That includes fast-loading Instant Articles, vertical video Stories, live streaming or shows in Watch, the new video hub launched last year where media companies and independent creators can create shows and share in ad revenue from commercial breaks.
Facebook, of course, is a gateway to more than 2 billion monthly users, but it can also act as a barrier between traditional media companies and their audiences.
This week, Facebook said it was expanding the number of creators allowed to participate in the ad program, and opened Watch to more videos. Now, any Facebook page can push videos to the Watch section, whereas before it was reserved for videos that were part of a show series.
Facebook did not disclose how it decides what individual videos will wind up in the Watch section, but creators and media companies are vetted before being allowed entry.
Also this week, Facebook opened a new collaboration tool that connects creators and brands for purposes of advertising on the platform.