Facebook doesn’t just want to be a destination for original content, but for live sports too.
Facebook is reportedly in the process of hiring an exec to negotiate sports rights deals. The company has been in the process of interviewing candidates for some time, reports Sports Business Journal. According to the publication, whoever gets the job will have a budget of a “few billion dollars” to spend on global rights deal.
Though a billion dollars may seem like quite a bit of cash, with the current cost of sports rights deals, it’s unlikely the social media giant will snag the exclusive rights to any big-ticket sports anytime soon. For comparison, DirecTV is paying the NFL a reported $1.5 billion a year for the rights to its “Sunday Ticket” ticket package, while ESPN and Turner are paying the NBA $2.66 billion a year for their current deal.
However, Facebook could make that money stretch if it focuses on streaming-only deals, sold alongside traditional TV deals. For example, last year Twitter acquired the streaming rights to the NFL’s Thursday night games for $10 million and this year Amazon acquired them for $50 million.
With the new budget, Facebook could slowly become a viable alternative for sports viewing, depending how the content is received by its community. In the past, Facebook has cut deals with multiple sports organizations. This year the social media giant closed a deal with Major League Baseball to stream at least 20 Friday Major League Baseball (MLB) games. So far, the MLB’s Facebook Watch page, where Friday night games are streamed, has garnered approximately 54K followers and attracts an average of 1 million views per game. The company also inked a deal with Univision Communications to stream 46 Liga MX soccer matches. While the financial terms of both deals weren’t disclosed, Facebook isn’t shy to put its money where its mouth is. In September, the company bid $610 million for the exclusive streaming rights for Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket games within the next five years, but ultimately outbid by 21st Century Fox’s Star India who acquired the rights for $2.5 billion.