"Earlier this year, we started rolling out the video tab, a dedicated place for video on Facebook," Van Veen said at the time he announced the initiative to begin seeding the social network with highly produced video content. "Our goal is to kickstart an ecosystem of partner content for the tab, so we're exploring funding some seed video content, including original and licensed scripted, unscripted, and sports content, that takes advantage of mobile and social interaction unique to Facebook. Our goal is to show people what is possible on the platform and learn as we continue to work with video partners around the world."
The company, which for years said it was not interested in becoming a buyer of content, has been vague about its plans and is clearly still in the early days of setting up its team and strategy around the effort. CEO Mark Zuckerberg, for whom video is a big priority, said earlier this month during a call with investors that he's "going to keep putting video first across our family of apps." He also clarified that Facebook will begin by buying short-form content and see how that performs before looking at traditional-length projects that could make it a more serious competitor to TV and streaming services like Netflix.
Lefevre is the first major hire for Van Veen's team. She held roles at ABC Family and Fox Family Networks before joining MTV, where she ran scripted programming from 2013-2015, working on such shows as Scream and Finding Carter. Lefevre also oversaw the development of The Shannara Chronicles, the cable network's attempt at a sweeping, Game of Thrones-style series that has been renewed for a second season. Her likely successor is said to be Maggie Malina, who currently serves as executive vp and head of scripted at VH1.
Facebook's move to build up a development team with an experienced TV executive comes as the technology industry looks increasingly to a future tied to Hollywood. After years as an advertising-only platform, YouTube in 2015 launched subscription service Red and hired Daniels away from MTV to run point on the development of TV-style series that would appeal to its young audience. Apple, meanwhile, has begun buying TV projects including a Carpool Karaoke spinoff and reality series Planet of the Apps as a way to drum up more business for its Apple Music offering. Even Snapchat, which is much younger than the other companies and is still in the process of going public, has experimented with buying and producing its own programming. The recent iteration of its strategy is to work with the TV networks on companion series to popular franchises like The Voice and The Bachelor that are oriented toward its mobile audience.