Facebook said to pay $50 million to celebrities, publishers to create streaming videos

The social network is trying to offer more videos as a way to better engage its 1 billion plus members.

Lance Whitney Contributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
Lance Whitney
2 min read

Facebook is looking to entice users with streaming videos from popular publishers and celebrities.

Facebook/screenshot by Lance Whitney/CNET

Facebook is reportedly spending millions to woo you with streaming videos.

The social network signed deals with almost 140 celebrities and media companies to produce live streaming videos for Facebook Live, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday. Through Facebook Live, people can create streaming videos that appear in your timeline. The videos are initially shown live but also are recorded so people can watch them later.

Facebook will dole out more than $50 million to video creators, according to the WSJ. The company has already set up agreements with media outlets CNN, The New York Times, Mashable, BuzzFeed and the Huffington Post as well as with celebrities including Kevin Hart, Gordon Ramsay and Deepak Chopra.

BuzzFeed declined to comment. The New York Times confirmed it was involved with Facebook Live but declined to comment on its agreement with Facebook. Other media outlets and celebrities did not responded to requests for comment.

Live video streaming has been gaining popularity with celebrities, businesses and regular folks as a way to promote themselves and share events with an audience of more than 1 billion people.

Watch this: Stream Facebook Live Video like a superstar

For Facebook, the videos can be a way to coax users to visit its site more often and spend more time there (driving more traffic and allowing it sell more ads). CEO Mark Zuckerberg is facing competition from other social platforms, including Snapchat and Twitter, which is pushing its Periscope service as a way for people to live stream activities.

The cost varies for each individual contract, with 17 worth more than $1 million a piece, the WSJ says, citing its a document it reviewed. BuzzFeed tops the list as the highest-paid provider, due to grab $3.05 million to live stream videos between March 2016 and March 2017. Next on the list is The New York Times, which will score $3.03 million for a 12-month contract. In third place is CNN with a deal worth $2.5 million, the newspaper said.

"We announced in March that we're testing different ways to support partners as they begin experimenting with Facebook Live," a Facebook spokesman said. "As part of this early test program, we're working with these partners to offer temporary financial support to encourage experimentation with this new format."

Update, 12:15 p.m. PT: Adds response from BuzzFeed and The New York Times.