March 9, 2018
In a first, Major League Baseball has signed a deal with Facebook enabling the social media behemoth (1.4 billion active daily users) to exclusively stream one afternoon MLB Network game per week. The deal reportedly is worth upwards of $35 million.
The deal, which primarily involves Wednesday games, starts April 4 with the Philadelphia Phillies taking on the New York Mets. Facebook reportedly will include graphics and links during games to enhance the social media appeal among younger viewers.
Last May, MLB and Facebook partnered to stream select Friday night games – the league’s first regular-season live streams on a third-party platform beyond MLB.com and MLB.tv. Facebook previously streamed Spring Training games in 2011.
Unlike Netflix, which thus far is shunning live sports programing, Facebook, YouTube and Amazon have become active platforms/bidders for National Football League, UEFA Champions League soccer and NCAA basketball live contests.
“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,” industry consultant Lee Berke told Bloomberg.com. “This is part of the next great leap.”