Facebook paid pubs to use Live. Here’s what happened at the Times.

The number of live videos posted to The New York Times main Facebook page has consistently surpassed regular videos in the 12 months since Facebook began paying select media partners to use its nascent streaming platform—yet viewing figures for Facebook Live lag far behind.

The Times is one of about 140 media companies and celebrities the platform giant enticed to produce content for Facebook Live through deals totalling a reported $50 million last year. According to The Wall Street Journal, the 12-month deal signed by the Times was worth $3.03 million, a figure surpassed only by the $3.05 million Facebook paid to BuzzFeed.

Now that it’s been a year, how did the Times adapt its video strategy to accommodate Facebook’s investment? An analysis of every video posted to the Times Facebook page from February 2016 to April 2017 shows fewer views for the live ones, but higher engagement. Ultimately, the cost-benefit equation for publishers distributing video content on social platforms remains unclear.

The first year

Since the Times cross-posted its first Live video in February 2016, a total of 1,417 Live videos have been added to its main Facebook page—considerably more than the 1,244 regular videos posted during the same period. Since the contract is believed to have begun in April 2016, there were only two months—November and December 2016—in which the number of Live videos did not exceed the number of regular ones. The precise number of videos the Times was obligated to post by the terms of its agreement with Facebook is unknown, but from April 2016 to April 2017, it posted an average of 4.4 Live videos per day on weekdays (1.4 of which were cross-posted from other Times accounts), and 1.6 per day at weekends (0.5 cross-posted).

More here from the Columbia Journalism Review.