Facebook Hits a Home Run, Nabs Exclusive Rights to 25 MLB Games

Eileen GuzmanMar 10, 2018

Facebook Inc (FB.O) said on Friday it signed a deal with Major League Baseball (MLB) to stream 25 games this season on the social network.

In a statement, MLB said these games will be produced by MLB Network and its production team specifically for Facebook Watch across its supported devices, including mobile phones and connected televisions. Facebook said Friday that recorded broadcasts will also be available globally, excluding select global markets.

On top of the live broadcasts, the Major League Baseball will also release extra content on Facebook Watch like on-demand highlights for every regular season game, as well as weekly recap highlights for each team. This isn't the first sport that Facebook has streamed, as they've cut deals for UEFA Champions League games and college basketball among others.

Lee Berke, an industry consultant speaking to Bloomberg, said that much like the migration of sports from broadcast to cable, you're reaching these milestones where the combination of the financial incentive and the audience allow you to make the next great leap.

All games in the Facebook deal will be played on weekday afternoons, with a new game on the social network each week.

"The deal is meant to establish skills and resources for Facebook to potentially bid on larger games with the Major League Baseball and other properties", Berke said. Financial terms were not released.

The agreement marks the first exclusive deal between Facebook and a professional sports league in the United States.

As part of the agreement, Facebook will be able to explore "social integration and graphics during the broadcast, enhancements popular with younger viewers drawn to digital platforms", per Bloomberg. The action gets under way on April 4 at 1:10 p.m. YouTube TV, an over-the-top service launched previous year, also will carry the streaming service MLB.tv, available to consumers for an added fee.

Each afternoon broadcast will include curated content produced by Major League Baseball. Afternoon games on Facebook are at least a way for more people to sneak watch a game while they procrastinate at the office.

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