A YouTube billionaire, Motor Trend revs up for Facebook Live

The Enthusiast Network embraced YouTube early enough in the game that its Motor Trend channel sits comfortably in the platform’s exclusive billion-views club. Now, as exploding watermelons and latte art help Facebook capture the attention of the video world, the publisher is making a right turn toward Facebook Live.

TEN plans to produce 20 hours of live programming every month for Facebook. The content will come from all corners of the publisher’s portfolio, said the company, which owns 50 print publications and 60 websites including Motor Trend, Automobile magazine and Baseball America. With Motor Trend, it will provide live on-site coverage of the publication’s Of the Year Awards and Best Driver’s Car, among other events. With access to top automakers and industry car shows, TEN will also aim to bring fans behind the scenes and closer to the latest models, personalities and athletes. The content will be produced by TEN’s 90-person video team, which is split up by video personnel embedded within each media brand.

“We want to bring our audience into the content as immediately and immersively as we can, and there’s no better way to do that than live,” said Jonathan Anastas, CMO of TEN. “The average car nut can now see the unveiling of the latest Lamborghini or Aston Martin the same time as our journalists.”

Early experiments by TEN and Motor Trend with Facebook Live have yielded modest results. Its Tesla Model 3 shoot at the Gigafactory has nearly 300,000 views across two videos, while the Bugatti Chiron live reveal from the Detroit Auto Show has more than 150,000 views. Anastas expects those numbers to grow as Facebook continues to prioritize live video.

“The way live video is scaling, anyone who is ignoring it is ignoring what’s happening in the coming year,” he said.

TEN will be helped by the fact that its Facebook presence is large with 74 different pages and a cumulative total of 103.5 million fans. Its top brand remains Motor Trend, which has 3.1 million Facebook fans and did a million views on the platform in April, according to Tubular Labs. In comparison, Motor Trend did 25.2 million views on YouTube in April, which suggests a lot of room for growth on Facebook.

“When you think about the automotive business as a whole, with 66 million U.S. auto enthusiasts, and you think about the percentage of Americans who log into Facebook daily, from a scale perspective, Facebook can’t be touched,” said Anastas. “It’s going to be a very powerful part of our publishing strategy for no other reason than scale.”

Like BuzzFeed, Vox and Tastemade, TEN’s live videos will be funded, in part, by Facebook. Anastas likened the relationship to how TEN launched Motor Trend’s YouTube channel as part of the video platform’s first original programming initiative in 2012. Back then, YouTube paid a wide variety of media companies and individual celebrities launch original channels for the platform.

“Facebook is doing to the publishing community what YouTube did to the digital video community years ago,” said Anastas. “It’s focusing on key partners to build live programming slates.”

Images via Rodrigo Garrido / Shutterstock.com

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