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Major Australian network created a unique news show for Facebook, only get 20 seconds of watch time

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The love-hate relationship between Facebook and publishers and broadcasters continues to unfold along what are perhaps all too predictable lines – with the latter increasingly wary of surrendering control to the tech giant and questioning the money value of such a business strategy.

Mumbrella, an Australia-based media marketing trade website, has a story about the criticism of the partnership with Facebook expressed by Nine, a major Australian TV network.

The exclusive partnership takes the form of broadcasting a daily news program on Facebook’s on-demand video platform, Facebook Watch – but the gist of Nine’s unease about the whole deal seems to be: “What’s in it for us?”

This is not a question Facebook hasn’t heard before, notably with its Instant Articles service. The answer should be obvious: a social media giant with nearly 2.5 billion users must dramatically increase exposure and monetization of any content published on its platform. But does it?

Speaking at an industry panel that saw the participation of Facebook’s representative, Lizzie Young, Nine’s managing director of commercial partnerships, was rather blunt in her criticism of this particular partnership, calling it unlikely to prove sustainable or monetizable in the long term – an experiment that is “not meaningful.”

In fact, the program broadcast on Facebook, 9 News Watch, “only gets a watch time of 20 seconds,” the report said.

The network is so dissatisfied with this experience that it has decided to pass on Facebook’s latest scheme introduced in Australia, the Local News Accelerator, that, however, managed to attract News Corp Australia and the Guardian, among others.

The panel was held during a time Australian publishers are contributing their comments to a report by the country’s ACCC regulator, that shows local media as the underdog to the dominance exerted over their industry by Facebook and Google.

Reacting to Young’s remarks, Andrew Hunter of Facebook asked for publishers to give Facebook Watch more time as a relatively new platform, launched last year, and asserting that it was a good deal for everyone involved.

But the network’s executive was unmoved: implying that while it may be good for Facebook, and its users – it will only be good for broadcasters, too, “if it can be sustained long term at the appropriate monetization,” she said.

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