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Facebook shoots for goal in deal with MLS to live-stream soccer games

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The social networking giant provides further evidence of its determination to expand its live video offerings with a Major League Soccer streaming deal.

Facebook is doubling down on its efforts to deliver more live sports events to users, announcing a new streaming deal for coverage of Major League Soccer (MLS) games.

Partnering with Univision, Facebook will offer soccer fans live-streams of at least 22 games this season, kicking off at 4 p.m. ET on March 18 with the clash between Atlanta United and Chicago Fire.

The live coverage — available on Univision’s Facebook page — will be tailored for mobile devices and will feature Facebook-specific commentators, interactive graphics, along with fan Q&A and polling features so viewers can engage directly with commentators throughout the games, MLS said in a release.

In addition, soccer fans can hit the MLS Facebook page for 40 “Matchday Live” shows made exclusively for Facebook. These will include not only MLS highlights and analysis from across the league, but also previews of the day’s matches.

Commenting on the deal, Facebook’s Dan Reed said the social networking giant was excited to offer an “innovative, community-first spirit to the Facebook Live broadcasts of league matches this season, [offering] fans … an entirely new way to experience a live soccer broadcast that is optimized for mobile screens and social viewing.”

Gary Stevenson of MLS said his team was working to ensure “our games, and additional content, get to our fans anytime, anywhere, and on any device.”

Univision, meanwhile, noted that the deal was a chance for it to build on its English-language audience of some 18 million soccer fans who’ve already watched games on its service.

More: Twitter strikes a deal to live-stream action from the PGA tour

This latest deal marks a deepening of ties between Facebook and Univision, with the pair inking an agreement just last month for the live-streaming of 46 games from Mexico’s top-tier soccer league, Liga MX.

Facebook has also hosted other sports live-streams on its service, including, for example, Team USA’s Olympic basketball exhibition games and Wayne Rooney’s 2016 testimonial fixture between Manchester United and Everton. And with the company continuing to invest heavily in live video, we can expect to see more such deals coming soon — including, perhaps, one with Major League Baseball (MLB).

The company’s drive to offer more live sports coverage mirrors similar efforts by Twitter, which has been inking various deals to bring sports content to its own users. In addition, both companies recently launched video apps for Apple TV and other platforms in a bid to keep users entertained, as well as boost video views and ultimately ramp up revenue.