March 13, 2018
Facebook and Major League Baseball have agreed to an exclusive deal through which Facebook now has rights to stream 25 afternoon MLB games live on its social media platform. This marks the first time a major sports league in the U.S. has agreed to broadcast regular season games exclusively on Facebook — and the decision was unanimous among MLB owners. Though neither party disclosed financial details, people close to the matter say it is valued between $30-$35 million. Facebook also signed a major licensing deal with Warner Music Group.
The MLB deal adds to Facebook’s growing portfolio and interest in live sports. “The company also had 20 non-exclusive MLB games last season and acquired exclusive rights to stream 47 college basketball games involving smaller conferences this year,” reports Bloomberg.
Additionally, it has made previous deals to stream the UEFA Champions League (Fox Sports) and games from the most popular soccer league in Mexico (Univision). Facebook previously bid on — and lost — deals involving live NFL games and rights to Indian cricket league matches.
According to industry consultant Lee Berke, the MLB move further marks a shift “much like the migration of sports from broadcast to cable,” in which “you’re reaching these milestones where the combination of the financial incentive and the audience allow you to make the next great leap.”
Facebook boasts an enormous audience of 1.4 billion active daily users, and that number is still growing. Compared to conventional TV viewership, which continues to see declining numbers, Facebook’s $40 billion in ad revenue last year is a bright light.
Interested viewers can stream these baseball games via Facebook Watch on any connected device, including TVs. Each game will have a traditional broadcast feel, produced by the MLB Network, but the agreement allows Facebook to experiment with “things like social integration and graphics during the broadcast, enhancements popular with younger viewers drawn to digital platforms,” according to Bloomberg. MLB will also produce special content including on-demand highlight packages and more.
Facebook is also expanding its reach into music. According to TechCrunch, “Facebook has signed a wide-ranging licensing deal that covers all of Warner Music’s recorded and published music catalogs. Music from these can now be used in ‘social experiences’ on Facebook, Instagram, Messenger and Oculus.”
Warner Music Group is the last of the major music labels to strike a deal with Facebook. Warner Music can now collect royalties on music used in videos and messages on Facebook’s platforms, tapping into what’s often referred to as fan-created video — a personal and popular way to share content that has long gone untapped financially and commercially.
Facebook, Warner Music, and recording artists stand to benefit from the deal as well “those posting content on Facebook and its network of social sites,” who will now be doing so “in the legal clear,” adds TechCrunch.
Some suspect Facebook is building toward a music streaming service of its own, but the company has declined to comment on any such ambitions.
Twitter Snags the Major League Soccer Live Streaming Deal From Facebook, TechCrunch, 3/12/18