Tech companies have made no secret of their desire to lure the millions of U.S. sport fans onto their platforms. Facebook (FB) now holds a significant advantage in this potentially lucrative battle, having just signed a deal to broadcast 20 live Major League Baseball (MLB) games.
The social media network confirmed that it will stream one game a week of the nation’s second most popular sport, beginning with Friday’s contest between the Colorado Rockies and the Cincinnati Reds. The games, which are only available to users in the U.S. and will be sourced from a local broadcaster’s feed, will be accessible through the MLB official Facebook page, using Facebook Live.
“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."
The deal, for an undisclosed sum, follows a similar agreement that Facebook signed in March with Univision to broadcast 46 live Mexican soccer matches. By adding live sport streams to its arsenal, the social media network is confident that it can expand its video offering and potentially attract more advertising revenues. (See also: Facebook Fined $122.4 Million for Misleading EU Regulators.)
The Battle Is On
Facebook is not alone in its efforts to bring premium live-streamed sports to its social network. Earlier this month, Twitter (TWTR) announced a series of new live streaming deals, including one for women’s basketball and another for a golf tournament.
Twitter also came close to winning the rights to 10 NFL football games, but eventually lost out to Amazon (AMZN). According to the Wall Street Journal, the e-commerce giant paid $50 million for the deal, representing five times the $10 million Twitter reportedly paid the NFL for the same rights in 2016.
Elsewhere, Verizon (VZ) is forking out $21 million to stream one NFL game exclusively and Google (GOOG), which has also expressed an interest in the NFL, is launching mobile live streaming on YouTube. (See also: NFL in Huddle With Tech Companies Over Streaming.)