Facebook last spring acquired the rights to stream 20 Major League Baseball (MLB) games over the course of the season. Critically, the games weren't exclusive to the social network meaning you could also watch them via other sources.
This year, things will be a bit different.
Facebook has once again struck a deal to air MLB games on its platform. What's different this time around, however, is the fact that Facebook managed to secure exclusive rights to 25 weekday afternoon games.
One game will be offered each week to a global audience, we're told. Contests will be distributed exclusively on Facebook Watch in the US via the MLB Live show Page. The deal ushers in MLB's first digital-only national broadcasts and according to Bloomberg, it's the first time a major US league has agreed to show regular season games exclusively on Facebook.
Lee Berke, an industry consultant speaking to Bloomberg, said that 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. Deals like this are part of that next great leap, Berke added.
Financial terms of the deal weren't disclosed although sources pegged the price in the $30 million to $35 million range. All 30 MLB teams unanimously approved the deal.
The first scheduled Facebook Watch broadcast this season will be a matchup between the Philadelphia Phillies and New York Mets. The action gets under way on April 4 at 1:10 p.m. Eastern from Citi Field. The remainder of the April lineup is as follows:
- Wednesday, April 11: Milwaukee Brewers vs. St. Louis Cardinals, 1:15 p.m.
- Wednesday, April 18: Kansas City Royals vs. Toronto Blue Jays, 4:07 p.m.
- Thursday, April 26: Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Philadelphia Phillies, 1:05 p.m.