Facebook obtains exclusive rights to stream 25 Major League Baseball games this season

Facebook Watch to get exclusive rights to 25 MLB games

Major League Baseball is taking a major swing on the future of streaming with Facebook. Live streaming games will give the social network the chance to experiment with different features that encourage social sharing and interaction, which appeal to younger sports fans, and various digital ad formats, including for its fledgling premium video tab Watch. In addition to desktop and television, the games will be available across all Facebook Watch platforms, including smartphones and other mobile devices. There is no concrete information as to how much the deal cost Facebook, but sources put its value at between $30 million and $35 million, with Major League Baseball owners approving terms unanimously.

Facebook has struck a deal with Major League Baseball (MLB) to exclusively stream one live weekday afternoon game per week in the USA on its Facebook Watch platform.

"This partnership with Facebook reflects the ongoing commitment of Major League Baseball and our Clubs to connect with people around the world", said Tony Petitti, Deputy Commissioner of Business and Media for Major League Baseball.

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Financial terms were not disclosed. The first game will be played on April 4th, just days into the regular season, between the Philadelphia Phillies and the New York Mets at Citi Field in New York.

The dueling announcements highlight the emerging arms race in the tech industry to lure users with live streaming sports events.

The two groups said Friday that the deal is an extension from a previous partnership past year in which Facebook streamed 20 baseball games.

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The games will air on weekday afternoons, and MLB Network will produce the broadcasts to ensure TV-level quality. This is the first time that a major league in the United States has awarded exclusive broadcast rights for games to a social network.

The new agreement is valued between $30 million to $35 million, according to Bloomberg.

While the new deal is exclusive to Facebook in the USA, some of the 25 baseball games will also air on television broadcasters in other countries, the spokesperson said. Given that Amazon has already paid $50 million to streaming Thursday night National Football League games a year ago, the MLB arrangement might be investing in a market that Facebook is already in. "It doesn't stop here".

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