Monday, 22 October, 2018

Facebook obtains exclusive rights to stream 25 Major League Baseball games this season

Facebook signs deal to exclusively stream 25 MLB games Modal Trigger Shutterstock
Theresa Hayes | 12 March, 2018, 18:47

This MLB season, Facebook will get exclusive rights to stream afternoon MLB games, starting with the first game on April 4th between Philadelphia Phillies and the New York Mets, according to a report from Bloomberg.

The deal was approved unanimously by the 30 Major League Clubs, with the agreement marking an extension of Facebook's 2017 season deal to simulcast local television broadcasts of 20 Friday night MLB games.

It's the first time a major US league has agreed to show regular season games exclusively on Facebook, which has been building a portfolio of live sports.

Major League Baseball said all 30 club owners had agreed to the deal with Facebook. Last year, the company struck deals with Fox Sports to stream the UEFA Champions League and with Univision to broadcast live games from Mexico's top soccer league. They would not share financial terms, but sources close to the matter tell Bloomberg it was in the ballpark of $30 million to $35 million.

Facebook will kick off its Major League Baseball games streaming on April 4th when the Philadelphia Phillies and the New York Mets go head to head. The deal comes at a time when leagues are worrying about cord-cutters causing a decrease in viewers among cable television networks. That said, Facebook will be experimenting with social integration and special graphics (which makes sense for a social media platform).

Facebook, Twitter and Amazon and other tech companies are in a race to acquire sports streaming rights, which can be lucrative and potentially boost user loyalty. Games will also include in-game elements created for watching, sharing and interacting on Facebook, and the deal features on-demand highlight packages and recaps for each team. These will be available on Facebook Watch in the United States and to baseball fans around the world.

Earlier this year, Facebook opted against bidding for the National Football League's Thursday Night package, which Amazon.com Inc. carried last season.

The weekly broadcasts will be shown exclusively on Facebook Watch in the USA via the MLB Live show page. Facebook had bid the previous two years. Facebook Watch is the site's video hub for original and live content.