Facebook is officially the first social network to have exclusive rights to stream games from a US professional league. The network continues to put its fingers in every cookie jar available with their latest move, the details of which were announced Friday.
According to Bloomberg, Facebook paid between $30 and $35 million for the rights to air 25 games throughout the MLB season. Many of them which will be afternoon games. 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.
Last year Facebook aired a set of non-exclusive MLB games and apparently that test batch worked out for them okay because they’re paying up to add more to their arsenal of sports rights. The majority of the games will be on Wednesday afternoons and the schedule of which games Facebook gets will be updated monthly, according to Bloomberg.
The first game to air will reportedly be an April 4th matchup between the Mets and Phillies, (feel. the. excitement!). In addition to exclusive US rights, Facebook will also air games globally but won’t have exclusive rights there. They will also be able to put their mark on the broadcasts and add a social network flair to each game. What that actually means for the overall look of the broadcast is unclear right now, but they will be produced by MLB Network so expect at least a modicum of familiarity.
In addition to the games themselves, there will also be “on-demand highlight packages for every regular season game, as well as club-specific weekly recap packages for all 30 MLB teams” produced by the league and airing on Facebook.
Social networks are increasingly getting their hooks in the live sports streaming game, but we’ve seen a limited sample size for what baseball can do on a social platform. Afternoon games on Facebook are at least a way for more people to sneak watch a game while they procrastinate at the office.