Facebook in talks to live stream one MLB game per week – sources

(Adds MLB declined to comment). By Jessica Toonkel.

NEW YORK, Feb 21 (Reuters) – Facebook Inc is in talks
with Major League Baseball to live stream one game per week
during the upcoming season, which could be a key win as the
social media platform works to offer more live sports, according
to two people familiar with the situation.

Facebook has pushed to sign deals with owners of sports
rights to live stream their games, going after an audience that
competitor Twitter Inc is also trying to capture,
according to sports media consultants.

For social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, live
streaming sports is key to attracting people since sports is one
of the few types of content that people still watch live.

“Facebook is aggressively going after sports content and
they are now one of a number of competitors to traditional media
outlets that are going after sports programming,” said sports
media consultant Lee Berke. “It makes perfect sense that they
would be going after name brand properties like the MLB.”

The companies were in advanced talks, according to one
source. It was unclear which games MLB would live stream on
Facebook. A representative for Facebook and MLB declined to
comment.

By partnering with Facebook, MLB would get access to a young
audience at a massive scale, consultants said.

The size of Facebook’s reach was a big reason Univision
Communications Inc decided to use Facebook Live to live
stream Mexican soccer matches in English, said Tonia O’Connor,
chief commercial officer and president of content distribution
at Univision.

Under that deal, Facebook will live stream 46 matches by
Mexican soccer league Liga MX in 2017. Terms were not disclosed.

Over the past few months, Facebook has live streamed global
basketball and soccer matches and table tennis.

While Facebook is aggressively pursuing sports deals,
Twitter has established a coveted relationship with the National
Football League. But Facebook does not need the NFL to claim
victory in live sports, Berke said.

“The scope of their audience is worldwide,” Berke said.
“They have a range of audiences and sports loyalties they can
appeal to.”

(Additional reporting by Tim Baysinger; Editing by Anna Driver,
Jeffrey Benkoe and Lisa Shumaker)

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