In a move that further confirms the shift in how sports leagues are delivering their content to fans, MLB and Facebook have struck a deal under which the social networking platform gets exclusive rights to 25 afternoon games this season, Bloomberg News first reported via Twitter. These will be available on Facebook Watch in the United States, as well as its global audience of baseball fans.
Soshnick pointed out sports are nothing new for Facebook, which also reached a deal last year with Fox Sports to stream UEFA Champions League games and earned the rights to stream 47 men's college basketball games this year. Aside from Facebook, numerous newly introduced OTT TV services - like Fubo, Hulu TV, and Sling TV- offer live sports, albeit not exclusively. The broadcasts will be produced by MLB Network, the league's dedicated TV channel, while Facebook will have the right to experiment with social integration and graphics during the transmission.
The deal also includes on-demand highlight packages and recaps for each club, produced by Major League Baseball for Facebook. The mobile-first package of weekday afternoon games, they said "will debut a variety of presentation and interactivity innovations".
MLB said the games on Facebook Watch will be the league's first digital-only national broadcasts.
The broadcasts will feature a play-by-play announcer from the MLB Network and an analyst who already calls games for one of the teams in that day's contest.
Wednesday, April 4: Philadelphia Phillies vs. Major League Baseball said in a statement that each additional monthly broadcast schedule will be announced during the season, and games are subject to change.
Games broadcast on Facebook will also provide users with the flexibility to watch on any screen. MLB Network will introduce new in-game production elements specially designed for watching, sharing and interacting on the social network. In the future, YouTube TV members will also be able to add MLB.tv, the longest running sports streaming service in the U.S., for an additional fee.