Businesses will now be able to monetize live activities on Facebook, thanks to a new update introduced today by the social network in the US and 19 other countries.
Head of Facebook App Fidji Simo said in a call with reporters that Facebook’s Events function was built for in-person activities, but with the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent social distancing orders, the business “very quickly pivoted” to endorse online events.
In reality, Simo said live broadcasts on Facebook Pages doubled in June of this year compared with the same time in 2019.
In a Facebook blog post Simo also described the new functionality. Businesses can host larger events via Facebook Live, and the company is also testing the ability to host smaller, more interactive gatherings in Messenger Rooms. The goal is to enable business owners to create the event, set the price, promote the event, collect the payment and host the event itself from a single location.
Many of the paid activities already planned during experiments with early users reportedly include lectures, contests, radio interviews, boxing matches, cooking lessons, meet-and-greets, and workout lessons.
“Many companies and developers are taking their events and services online with social distance requirements still in place to communicate with current customers and meet new ones,” Simo wrote. “In fact , people rely more on live streaming and virtual interactions when they can’t physically come together.”
Simo said for the next year at least, Facebook will not collect any fees from paid online events. But on the web and on Android “in countries where we’ve rolled out Facebook Pay,” organizations will be able to maintain 100 percent of their income from online events. That won’t be the case on iOS however, and Simo’s blog post contains a surprisingly direct shot at Apple:
We requested Apple to reduce its App Store tax by 30 percent or to encourage us to give Facebook Pay so that we could bear all costs for companies struggling during COVID-19. Unfortunately, both our requests were dismissed and only 70 percent of their hard-earned revenue will be paid to SMBs. Because this is complicated, we will make all fees clear in our products as long as Facebook waives their fees.