Facebook Inc. reached a deal with Major League Baseball for exclusive rights to stream 25 afternoon games on the social network in the U.S. The social media network also has rights to stream the UEFA Champions League, Mexico's soccer league, and "college basketball games involving smaller conferences". Each of the 25 Facebook-exclusive games will be in the afternoon (typically 1PM or 4PM ET), so no prime-time yet, but they'll be produced by the Major League Baseball for a look and feel fans are familiar with.
It's interesting news, not necessarily because the games are going to draw massive audiences (they likely won't), but because it's a sign that major sports leagues are getting more comfortable with their games appearing online - and only online - versus with traditional TV partners.
According to a release, the games will be shown on Facebook Watch via the MLB Live show page. For Facebook, however, the rights allow for experimentation with things like social integration and graphics during the broadcast, enhancements popular with younger viewers drawn to digital platforms. New York Mets, 1:10 p.m.
According to Bloomberg, Facebook paid between $30 and $35 million for the rights to air 25 games throughout the Major League Baseball season. No financial terms were disclosed by either party. Afternoon games on Facebook are at least a way for more people to sneak watch a game while they procrastinate at the office. YouTube TV branding will appear across MLB's digital properties and official social media accounts, as well as in stadiums. Amazon paid $50 million last season to broadcast 11 games from the NFL's "Thursday Night Football" series.
Following is the complete schedule for April (subject to change; all times are Eastern). The league has yet to announce which broadcasters will announce the games. "It is a major creative step forward in serving our diverse, passionate community of fans who will enjoy a uniquely interactive experience watching our games on Facebook each week". Soshnick noted the games will primarily be on Wednesdays, starting with the April 4 contest between the New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies.