Major League Baseball and Facebook have come to official terms on a deal that was reported months ago, one that will give Facebook rights to air live one game per week.
Under the deal, Facebook will be able to livestream 20 games, starting with a game this Friday. The deal comes after Twitter earlier this month announced a similar deal with MLB that will allow it to stream one game per week as well.
"Baseball games are uniquely engaging community experiences, as the chatter and rituals in the stands are often as meaningful to fans as the action on the diamond. By distributing a live game per week on Facebook, Major League Baseball can reimagine this social experience on a national scale," said Dan Reed, Facebook's head of global sports partnerships, in a statement.
The deal comes after earlier this year Reuters reported that Facebook and MLB were in talks for a streaming deal.
For Facebook, one game a week amounts to a small fraction of the total games played in one MLB season, which comes out to about 2,430, or a little more than 100 per week. But for the MLB, a deal with Facebook livestreaming would give it access to a large audience—Facebook counted 1.23 billion daily active users in 2016—and would go further toward relaxing the league’s attitude around livestreaming games.
Live sports are emerging as a primary video content target for digital platforms like Amazon, Twitter and Facebook that are looking to expand their programming slates and hopefully pull ad dollars away from television.
Amazon recently won a bidding war for the rights from the NFL to livestream 10 Thursday Night Football games next season. The service reportedly paid about five times as much as Twitter did for the same rights last season.
Meanwhile, Twitter has been busy expanding its content deals with numerous publishers and, perhaps more notably, with a number of sports leagues. Earlier this year the company expanded its livestreaming deal with the PGA and, during this year’s Digital Content NewFronts, announced partnerships with the WNBA and MLB.