The fight to be the streaming destination for sports fans is heating up and Facebook just took a huge step forward in upping its game.
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 marks the first time a major U.S. league has agreed to show regular season games exclusively on Facebook, which last year said it was willing to spend “few billion dollars” on live sports content.
According to Bloomberg, who first reported on the news, MLB owners unanimously approved the move. Neither company disclosed the financial terms of the deal, however, people with knowledge of the matter put the price at $30 million to $35 million, according to the news publication.
The soon-to-be streamed baseball games add to Facebook’s growing line of live sports programming. Last year, the company struck deals with Fox Sports to stream the UEFA Champions League and with Univision to broadcast live games from Mexico’s top soccer league. The streaming giant also locked in 20 non-exclusive MLB games last season and acquired exclusive rights to stream 47 college basketball games from smaller conferences this year.
With streaming companies slowly taking over consumer eyeballs, live sports has remained an area where broadcasters remained dominant. However, this deal between Facebook and MLB shows a shifting tide in the industry. Aside from Facebook, many of the newly introduced OTT TV services — like Fubo, Hulu TV, and Sling TV— offer live sports, albeit not exclusively. However Google’s YouTube TV has recently inked exclusive streaming deals with two soccer teams from the MLS within the past two months.
Facebook new agreement with the MLB begins April 4 with a game between the Philadelphia Phillies and New York Mets. Viewers will be able to watch on tablets, smartphones, computers and connected TVs.