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Facebook has tapped A-list celebrities to star in some of the shows, according to multiple people briefed on the plans.One agency has already attached an A-list Hollywood star to a show, according to a person familiar with the talks.
Another said Facebook initially planned to unveil its shows around its developer conference in mid-April but decided to debut in time for the Cannes Lions advertising festival, which starts June 17.
"Five years ago, 85% of all original series were ad-supported," Robert Kyncl, You Tube's business chief, said at an event on Thursday of the company's strategy.
"This year, that number has fallen to just over two-thirds.
The short video clips that autoplay in Facebook's News Feed have been a success for most publishers, but there's no guarantee that consumers will begin to think of Facebook as a destination for watching longer-form shows. The effort to snag exclusive shows is being led by College Humor cofounder Ricky Van Veen, whom Facebook hired in December to be its global creative strategy chief.
His small team has been meeting with production companies and hearing pitches for episodic shows five to 30 minutes long that would live in a revamped version of Facebook's video tab.
To start, Facebook is purchasing the rights to some shows upfront with plans to recoup its costs through mid-roll ads later.