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Facebook eyes deals to stream music videos, report says

YouTube dominates music videos online, but Facebook's talks with major labels hint the social network may want to be a rival.

Facebook operates the world's biggest social network. 
Claudia Cruz/CNET

Facebook may pursue rights to stream major record labels' music videos, according to a report. It's a pursuit that could set up Facebook and its video-centric Watch tab to take on Google's YouTube, the ruler of online music video viewing. 

Facebook is in the middle of negotiations with the three largest music companies -- Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment and Warner Music Group -- and the social-networking giant has asked for music video rights, Bloomberg reported Thursday, citing unnamed people familiar with the matter. 

Facebook and Sony declined to comment. Representatives for Universal and Warner didn't immediately respond to separate messages seeking comment.

YouTube dominates online free video, with more than 2 billion monthly visitors to its service and more than 500 hours of video uploaded there every minute. And on YouTube, no kind of video generates the kind of eye-popping viewership that music videos do. The top 25 videos on YouTube, with views in the billions, are almost all music videos from superstar artists. 

Facebook has long envied YouTube's video might and the lucrative ads that can run with clips, spurring the social giant to launch its Watch video initiative more than two years ago. While Facebook's video efforts have continued, they've fallen out of the public spotlight in the last couple of years as the company has grappled with privacy scandals and other backlashes. 

Adding music videos to Facebook Watch could lend the initiative more appeal as a video destination, while giving music companies a new online distributor that could challenge YouTube's dominance. 

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