The MLB announced today that the league will be streaming 25 games on Facebook this upcoming season. And unlike with previous deals in other sports leagues, Facebook has an exclusive here. So even those that subscribe to MLB TV won't be able to stream these 25 games. Now Facebook did not win the coveted primetime games, that typically run on Sunday and Monday night with marquee matchups. Instead, the majority of these games are going to be in the afternoon on Wednesdays. The MLB likely decided to award Facebook with those games as they don't typically get a lot of viewers in the afternoon in the middle of the week. But with them streaming on Facebook's website, there is a chance it could pick up more viewers.
These games are going to be part of the Facebook Watch service that the company launched earlier this year. Facebook Watch is its new video platform that already has a slew of partners streaming content exclusively on the service. The MLB says that the games will still be produced by the MLB, so viewers will get an experience that is similar to a regular MLB game broadcast on your local sports channel or even MLB TV. However, this is the first time that the MLB has streamed games exclusively on a digital platform. Previously, games have streamed on MLB TV, which is a digital platform, but it was also on traditional cable and satellite channels.
Facebook, among other tech giants, have been looking to get into the world of sports streaming, since they are already pretty big events that draw in huge crowds. But companies are also moving into video because of ads. Video ads pay more than regular ads you'd see around Facebook's website. That means that it can bring in more money and keep its shareholders happy, while also keeping users on its site longer and providing actual value to its service. That's where Facebook Watch came into play when it launched a few months ago. It's a platform for users to watch full-length episodes of different content. And all of the content there is original content, unlike YouTube, where some of it may be recorded from TV (and thus infringe on copyrights). There's no word yet on how much Facebook paid the MLB for this exclusivity.