×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Facebook Nabs MLB Exclusive Global Rights to 25 Games

Facebook has taken a new swing at sports: The social giant announced a deal with Major League Baseball to exclusively stream 25 games worldwide during the 2018 season.

The deal marks the first time a major U.S. sports league has granted exclusive rights to Facebook. It’s also the biggest bucket of rights from a big league to go exclusively to a streaming-video platform. And it might mark the first inning of what could be a seismic shift for sports from its historic home on TV to digital over the next few years as more rights come due.

Financial terms weren’t disclosed. Facebook is paying MLB between $30 million-$35 million for the exclusive 25-game package, Bloomberg reported. It’s worth noting that the games are in the middle of the week and during daytime hours in the U.S. — making the national broadcast rights far less valuable than primetime or weekend matchups.

In the past two years, Facebook has demonstrated an appetite for acquiring live sports rights. Last season, MLB and Facebook teamed up live-stream 20 games on Friday nights. But those weren’t exclusive: The games for the 2017 season were national simulcasts of the participating home team’s local TV broadcast.

Under the new MLB deal, all of the games streamed on Facebook will be weekday afternoon matchups. The deal commences with the April 4 game between the Philadelphia Phillies and New York Mets starting at 1:10 p.m. ET.

In the U.S., the games will be available on Facebook Watch via the MLB Live show page. Each of the games also will be available globally on the same page, excluding certain international markets where MLB has already sold TV rights.

According to MLB, the the league’s 30 teams unanimously approved the Facebook pact. “This partnership with Facebook reflects the ongoing commitment of Major League Baseball and our clubs to connect with people around the world,” said Tony Petitti, MLB’s deputy commissioner of business and media.

The 25-game package will be produced by MLB Network specifically for Facebook Watch across its supported devices, including mobile phones and connected TVs. MLB Network will create new in-game production elements designed for the social platform, including features to foster watching, sharing and interacting.

“Community and conversation are central to both baseball and Facebook, and MLB Network’s innovative broadcasts will bring these interactive and social elements of the game to life to fans around the world in new ways on our platform,” Dan Reed, Facebook’s head of global sports partnerships, said in announcing the deal.

The news comes as Facebook is set to bring on board Peter Hutton, currently CEO of Eurosport, to lead its efforts to broker worldwide deals for live-streaming sports. Hutton will report to Reed.

Following the Phillies-Mets game on April 4, Facebook will exclusive stream the following games in April: Milwaukee Brewers vs. St. Louis Cardinals on April 11 at 1:15 p.m.; Kansas City Royals vs. Toronto Blue Jays on April 18 at 4:07 p.m.; and Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Philadelphia Phillies on April 26 at 1:05 p.m.

Facebook has been adding a steady stream live sports to its platform, but it hasn’t nabbed anything as high-profile as the MLB exclusive set of games. The company says it has more than 650 million sports fans on the platform worldwide, so it sees a rich opportunity to keep that audience engaged with more live programming.

In the first half of 2017, there were 3,500 live sports broadcasts on Facebook. However, only a small percentage of the sports content streamed on its platform are formal paid partnerships such as its deals with Fox Sports for UEFA Champions League soccer and MLB. Last fall, Facebook’s biggest known bid for sports rights, it offered $600 million for five-year rights to Indian Premier League cricket matches over five years (ultimately losing to Star India).

More Digital

  • APOS: Asia Streamer Hooq Heads for

    APOS: Asia Streamer Hooq Heads for 100 Original Shows

    Asian video streaming service Hooq has committed itself to developing at least 100 original shows and films by the end of this year. They will be produced in Singapore, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand and India, and range in genre terms from horror to comedy and from factual to lifestyle. The company has begun the immediate release [...]

  • APOS: Turner and Tencent Reteam on

    APOS: Turner and Tencent Reteam on Tuzki-Starring 'Second Time'

    Turner Asia Pacific and China’s Tencent are joining forces for “Second Time Around,” a Chinese drama that will air later this year. The series makes use of Tuzki, a Turner owned animated character that has become famous as an emoticon in Tencent’s WeChat universe. Turner is licensing the character and will invest in the series [...]

  • eOne Names Bill Wilson Senior VP

    eOne Names Bill Wilson Senior VP

    Entertainment One (“eOne”) has tapped Bill Wilson as Senior Vice President Digital Operations and Innovation, Music, the company announced today. Wilson will oversee all aspects of digital strategy across the company’s music business, including label service, talent management, music publishing and live entertainment, according to the announcement.  Wilson will be based in New York City and [...]

  • Jennifer Kaytin Robinson Someone Great

    'Someone Great' Director Jennifer Kaytin Robinson on Reimagining the Rom-Com

    Jennifer Kaytin Robinson, creator of the MTV series “Sweet/Vicious,” recently made her feature debut with “Someone Great,”  now streaming on Netflix. The film follows three friends as they navigate relationships and work in New York City.  Here, the writer-director opens up on reimagining the rom-com, and women changing the face of Hollywood. The three young [...]

  • Hulu-Logo

    Comcast Mulling Sale of Hulu Stake to Disney (Report)

    Comcast is holding talks with Disney to see if they can hammer out a deal to sell Comcast’s one-third stake in Hulu to the Mouse House — which would give Disney full control over Hulu, CNBC reported. The report comes a little over a week after AT&T sold its 9.5% stake in Hulu to the [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content