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Facebook splashes $50 million on Live streaming deals with celebs and media

Facebook is signing up celebrities and media publishers for its Live video feature with multimillion-dollar deals.

It was no secret that the social network was offering financial incentives to its media partners, including BuzzFeed, Vox, and Gawker Media, among others, but the extent of those deals was kept under wraps, until now.

Facebook has spent over $50 million on contracts with approximately 140 media companies and celebrities, reports The Wall Street Journal. The digital publishers include prominent news outlets such as The New York Times, and CNN, celebs including Gordon Ramsey, Kevin Hart, Deepak Chopra, and NFL quarterback Russell Wilson, and the aforementioned media sites.

Related: Facebook Live aims to beat Twitch at its own game with help of pro gamer Stephen Ellis

Individual contracts valued at over $1 million have been offered to 17 companies, with specific rates based a publisher’s experience with the video format, and engagement rates. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that the highest paid media partner is BuzzFeed, which is set to receive $3.05 million for a year’s worth of live broadcasts. The viral news publisher already boasts its own video app, and has over 7 million likes for its Facebook page — all of those users get notified every time it goes live on the platform. The New York Times received a similar figure of $3.03 million, and CNN’s partnership is reportedly worth $2.5 million.

Additional Live partners include the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and American Museum of Natural History in New York; dance music DJs Armin Van Buuren and Hardwell; and Spanish soccer behemoth FC Barcelona. Notably, Facebook has also nabbed several Vine creators, including Logan Paul, Andrew Bachelor (aka King Bach, and Lele Pons. Twitter’s ailing video looping service is allegedly hemorrhaging talent, and now we know where its stars are heading.

Judging by the numbers, and companies involved, Facebook is evidently building a live-streaming network with a diverse range of content that is more akin to YouTube than its closest competitor, Twitter’s live-streaming app, Periscope.

The social network claims that it doled out the lucrative contracts in order to set up its Facebook Live feature, and that it is working on implementing a concrete ad revenue-sharing policy.

Whilst Facebook is intent on pinning its hopes on third-party creators, its general users are also taking advantage of its live-streaming functionality. Last month, Facebook Live produced its first viral celebrity in the form of Candace Payne (better known as the Chewbacca Mom). Payne may not have been offered a million-dollar partnership to begin with, but that didn’t stop her from creating the most-watched Live video of all time, 157 million views and counting.

It just goes to show that, like YouTube, Facebook Live’s biggest asset may turn out to be its homegrown creators. After all, it is home to 1.65 billion users, many of whom could end up forming a sizable talent pool for the social network. The quicker it pins down that revenue-sharing plan, the more likely it is to both draw and retain the next generation of web stars.