In a continuing effort to become a one stop shop for virtually everything, Facebook has signed an exclusive deal with Major League Baseball to stream 25 afternoon games during the 2018 season, according to Bloomberg. Last year, the company struck deals with Fox Sports to stream the UEFA Champions League and with Univision to broadcast live games from Mexico's top soccer league. These will be available on Facebook Watch in the USA and around the world. Facebook Watch is the site's video hub for original and live content. At this point, we don't know how much the deal cost Facebook.
Facebook will also have rights to show the baseball games globally, though they won't be exclusive outside the U.S. MLB and Facebook will update the schedule on a monthly basis.
"This partnership with Facebook reflects the ongoing commitment of Major League Baseball and our Clubs to connect with people around the world", MLB deputy commissioner Tony Petitti said in a statement.
As sports viewership has declined rapidly over the past few years and the number of cord cutters continues to rise, major sports leagues like the MLB are looking for new ways to reach sports fans, who prefer to watch on their own terms, often using multiple screens and seeking out content digitally and on social media.
The NFL streams Thursday night football games on Twitter.
Facebook, Twitter and Amazon and other tech companies are in a race to acquire sports streaming rights, which can be lucrative and potentially boost user loyalty.
This 25-game package of weekly broadcasts will be distributed exclusively on Facebook Watch in the United States via the MLB Live show Page - marking MLB's first digital-only national broadcasts.
Facebook had a package of 20 non-exclusive Friday night games past year that began in mid-May and used broadcast feeds from the participating teams.
Produced by MLB Network and its production team specifically for Facebook Watch across its supported devices, including mobile phones and connected televisions, this package of weekday afternoon games will debut a variety of presentation and interactivity innovations.