Facebook has hired Eurosport CEO Peter Hutton to head up the social network’s efforts to broker worldwide deals for live-streaming sports, Variety has confirmed.
At Facebook, Hutton will be focused on securing global sports rights and based in Silicon Valley, according to sources. He’ll report to Dan Reed, Facebook’s head of global sports partnerships who was previously with the NBA. Hutton is set to join Facebook following the 2018 Winter Olympic Games next month.
Facebook declined to comment. Reps for Eurosport did not respond to requests for more info. Hutton’s coming move to Facebook was first reported by the Guardian.
Hutton, reached via email, declined to comment. He said he is about to embark on month-long sojourn to the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, where he will oversee Eurosport’s coverage of the games (which run Feb. 9-25).
“I’m trying to keep focused on delivering the best Olympic Games possible for Eurosport/Discovery,” Hutton wrote.
Facebook’s hire of the Eurosport CEO is another strong signal of the social giant’s appetite for live sports as a core part of its video-growth strategy. The company had been actively recruiting for a sports dealmaker who will have “a few billion dollars” to vie for global rights deals, Sports Business Journal reported in late November.
Notably, last year the social giant entered a $600 million bid for five-year rights to Indian Premier League cricket matches over five years, ultimately losing to 21st Century Fox’s Star India.
In the first half of 2017, there were 3,500 live sports broadcasts on Facebook. But only a small percentage of those were paid partnerships such as Facebook’s deals with Fox Sports for UEFA Champions League soccer for the U.S., Major League Baseball for weekly games, and sports-media venture Stadium for a batch of American collegiate basketball games.
Meanwhile, Facebook has opted to sit out bidding for the NFL’s “Thursday Night Football” package for the 2018 season, which the league is currently shopping to TV nets and digital distributors, as first reported by Bloomberg. Amazon had global streaming rights to “TNF” this past season, after Twitter had them in 2016.
Hutton, currently based in Paris, joined Eurosport in 2015 after Discovery bought a majority-stake ownership in the pan-regional sports programmer. Discovery bought full control of Eurosport later that year, just after clinching multiplatform rights to the four Olympic Games between 2018–2024 for most Euro markets.
Of interest to Facebook, Hutton has overseen the expansion of the Eurosport Player subscription service — available in 52 markets in 20 languages — which provides live streaming access to select events. All told, Eurosport’s operations span 69 countries in Europe and Asia-Pacific with a TV portfolio of six channels including the flagship Eurosport, which broadcasts over 3,000 hours of live sports per year.
Before joining Eurosport, Hutton was co-CEO of the MP & Silva sports rights agency. Prior to that he worked at Fox International Channels to launch its sports business outside the Americas, including the acquisition of Setanta Sports in Africa and ESPN/Star Sports in Asia. He became CEO of ESPN/Star Sports based out of Singapore and oversaw its rebranding into Fox Sports in Asia and Star Sports in India.