Facebook's new video service is called 'Watch.' But will you?

With 'Watch,' Facebook challenges YouTube
With 'Watch,' Facebook challenges YouTube

Facebook is straying further into YouTube territory.

The social media giant has announced a new video platform called "Watch" that will feature live and recorded show episodes.

Facebook (FB) has been trying for years to become a major player in digital video, but still lags behind its competitors.

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The new service will feature some live events that Facebook has acquired streaming rights for, including a weekly Major League Baseball game.

Other shows will be produced by video partners including National Geographic, Time Inc., NASA and the NBA.

A Facebook spokesman told CNNMoney that the company does not have a full list of shows yet, and emphasized that this week's launch is only a "limited test."

The shows that have been announced suggest that Facebook is primarily taking its cues from Google-owned YouTube.

A blog post about the new Facebook service stressed that it is organized around "friends and communities."

Users will be able to personalize their feeds and follow shows they like, much like YouTube's channel subscription model. They will also be able to comment in real time, and a tab will show what their friends are watching.

Related: Facebook will prioritize fast-loading articles in your News Feed

The approach contrasts with that of Netflix, which has invested huge amounts of money to create must-see streaming shows like "House of Cards."

Facebook will initially make the platform available on its desktop and app versions to a "limited group of people" in the United States, before rolling it out globally.

-- Brian Stelter contributed reporting.

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