Facebook appears to be taking a ruthless approach to news content it doesn’t consider to be working out on Facebook Watch, and has told publishers it will renew only around one third of current news shows.

The social media giant launched its first set of daily and weekly news shows on Facebook Watch last June, with publishers, including ABC News, CNN, Business Insider and NowThis, generating a total offering of 21 news shows.

But Facebook execs have told publishers that two thirds of shows will be dropped, according to Digiday.

“We’re going to continue experimenting with news publishers in Watch and sharing what we learn,” Shelley Venus, Facebook’s video lead for news partnerships, responded in a statement.

“We’re partnering with these organisations to build sustainable video businesses, where Facebook can be one part of their overall strategy.”

Facebook is reportedly still paying for the news shows on Watch and is not abandoning news, said Digiday. Instead it has merely decided to be more selective about what it funds in the future. One news publisher source was quoted as saying Facebook now aims to work more like a TV network, ready to cancel shows that don’t get traction.

That financial caution will also extend to how much it is prepared to spend on individual shows. Digiday reported that Facebook’s strategy is to spend less money per show so it can use its $90m news spend for Watch to deliver a greater number of programmes and more breadth of programming, including international news content.

However, while publishers may have smaller programme budgets, they are now able to sell ads. In the past, Facebook sold all the ad slots and retained all revenue until a show’s costs had been recouped. It now shares revenue with the publisher, with Facebook usually taking 45%, Digiday advised.

In a separate development, Digiday reported that publishers are complaining about the lack of revenue generated by Apple News.

Seven publishers cited the difficulties they have selling Apple News ad inventory directly to advertisers. Three blamed Apple News’s limited user targeting, which doesn’t allow the use of third-party data or IP addresses, while another said they had a problem with Apple News’s ban on programmatic advertising.

Sourced from Digiday; additional content by WARC staff