It's Playball for Major League Baseball and Facebook

by Frankie Norman March 12, 2018, 4:13
It's Playball for Major League Baseball and Facebook

The social media giant has inked a deal with MLB for exclusive global rights to 25 of the league's games during the 2018 season.

This isn't the first time the platform has aired baseball games - they started livestreaming some back in May 2017 - but It will be the first time a U.S. major league has granted a social network sole rights to broadcast games. Bloomberg first reported the news.

The move marks the first time that one of the major U.S. professional sports leagues has agreed to have regular season games distributed only on Facebook. In the previous years, Facebook added UEFA Champions League and Univision to broadcast live games from Mexico's top soccer league. Now, with full media rights, Facebook is showing it can win rights to sought-after programming.

The financial terms of the agreement have not been officially announced, but the Bloomberg news agency reports that sources close to the deal say that Facebook has paid between US$30 million and US$35 million for the rights package.

Showcased games will be announced each month but subject to change.

Produced by MLB Network and its Emmy Award-winning production team specifically for Facebook Watch across its supported devices, including mobile phones and connected televisions, this package of weekday afternoon games will debut a variety of presentation and interactivity innovations. The action gets under way on April 4 at 1:10 p.m.

The games that will be broadcast on Facebook will all be afternoon games, primarily on Wednesdays. It's unclear how much the major league baseball deal cost Facebook.

The Royals' April 18 game at Toronto won't be shown on Fox Sports Kansas City as planned.

Thursday, April 26: Diamondbacks vs. Phillies, 1:05 p.m.

While 25 games is just a small portion of the total games played across the entire league each season, MLB and Facebook are also looking to offer additional content that covers all 30 teams in the League.

The latest MLB deal expands on a growing partnership between Facebook and the league.

"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", Petitti said.

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