Facebook just announced that it has reached a deal with Major League Baseball to broadcast 20 games live on Facebook this season, part of the tech giant’s big push into premium video.
These games will be streamed weekly in a national telecast on Friday nights, accessible to Facebook users in the US. The first game will air tomorrow — Rockies at Reds, at 7:10 p.m. ET. According to Facebook, this broadcast will be a “feed from a participating team’s local broadcast rightsholder.” In other words, this isn’t an exclusive deal where the games will only run on Facebook.
“Baseball games are uniquely engaging community experiences, as the chatter and rituals in the stands are often as meaningful to fans as the action on the diamond,” Dan Reed, Facebook’s Head of Global Sports Partnerships, said in a statement. “By distributing a live game per week on Facebook, Major League Baseball can re-imagine this social experience on a national scale.”
Facebook isn’t the only tech company going after sports.
Amazon recently snagged the rights to stream 10 of the NFL’s games. Amazon paid a staggering $50 million for the deal, according to The Wall Street Journal. That figure is five times the $10 million Twitter reportedly paid the NFL for the same rights in 2016.
Verizon will pay a reported $21 million for the rights to stream one NFL game exclusively, outstripping the $15 million Yahoo paid in a similar deal in 2015.
TV on Facebook
This MLB partnership is another example of Facebook kicking its premium video aspirations into high gear. Multiple sources have told Business Insider that Facebook wants to debut a slate of TV-like shows in mid-June.
The social network has been looking for shows in two distinct tiers: a marquee tier for a few longer, big-budget shows that would feel at home on TV, and a lower tier for shorter, less expensive shows of about five to 10 minutes that would refresh every 24 hours.
The new video initiative means Facebook would play a much more hands-on role in controlling the content that appears on its social network — and it comes as companies like Amazon, YouTube, and Snap are locked in an arms race to secure premium video programming.
One show Facebook has greenlit is a virtual-reality dating show from Conde Nast Entertainment in which people go on first dates in VR before they meet in real life, according to one person who asked not to be named because the discussions are private. At Conde Nast’s recent NewFront presentation, the company confirmed that it had a new video project with Facebook, but didn’t give details.
Facebook released a standalone video app for the Apple TV and other set-top boxes in March that is one place users could watch these MLB games, as well as its upcoming original shows.