SAN FRANCISCO: Facebook is ramping up its challenge to YouTube and seeking to attract more ad dollars after announcing the debut of a new video app for smart TV.

The new app will initially feature on Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV and Samsung Smart TV before being rolled out to other platforms and, according to a blog post from the social network, will be "a new way to enjoy Facebook videos on a bigger screen".

In effect, the new app will enable users to watch videos shared by friends, those recommended in their news feed, or streamed live, and they will also be able to save videos to watch later.

The development follows Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's announcement at the end of last year that he wanted to put "video first across our apps".

"People are creating and sharing more video, and we think it's pretty clear that video is only going to become more important," Zuckerberg told analysts, as reported at the time by USA Today.

"So that's why we’re prioritising putting video first across our family of apps, and taking steps to make it even easier for people to express themselves in richer ways," he added.

In addition to its new app, Facebook also announced some other new video features, including playing videos with sound as users scroll past them in their news feed.

Previously, users had to tap on a video to hear sound, but now sound will fade in and out as users scroll through videos and, according to Facebook, this will help bring "those videos to life".

However, users will still be able to disable the feature if they want and, if their phone is set to silent, the videos will not play with sound.

Facebook is also introducing another update, which it calls "watch and scroll", enabling users to minimise a video they're watching to a picture-in-picture view that keeps playing in the corner of the screen while users browse other stories in the news feed.

"You can drag the video to any corner of the screen, and if you’re using an Android device, you can keep the video playing even when you exit the Facebook app to do something else on your phone," Facebook explained.

Data sourced from Facebook, USA Today; additional content by Warc staff