Sports live-streams on Facebook just received a huge boost thanks to the platform’s latest video content deal with television network Univision.
The partnership will see the social network broadcast a total of 46 Liga MX soccer games. The top-tier Mexican Soccer league is touted as the most-watched soccer property in the United States, consistently attracting more viewers than the English Premier League and Major League Soccer.
Univision Deportes will broadcast the games live in English via its Facebook page, which currently boasts a total of more than 5 million likes and followers combined. The live-streams will kick off this Saturday, February 18, and will continue throughout the year. Viewers can also tune in to the matches via the Facebook video tab. The financial details of the deal have not been disclosed.
“Univision’s … Facebook partnership is an exciting opportunity for … fans to experience … great soccer in the language of their choice,” said Tonia O’Connor, chief commercial officer and president of content distribution, Univision Communications Inc. “TV options have evolved from broadcast to cable to SVOD. Now Facebook represents the next wave of TV and, given its scale, they are an ideal partner to distribute our Liga MX matches in English.”
This isn’t the first time the social network has hosted sports live-streams on its service. In the past, Facebook has aired Team USA’s Olympic basketball exhibition games, an NBA match between the Golden State Warriors and Sacramento Kings (exclusively in India), and Wayne Rooney’s testimonial match that saw Manchester United take on Everton.
Its deal with Univision is by far its biggest in terms of sports coverage, totaling over 70 hours of live-streaming content. And this is just the start, according to the company’s head of global sports partnerships, Dan Reed. “We think live sports games are a great fit for Facebook, so expect more of this from us. It aligns well with our mission, as sports are inherently social and … have the power to build and connect communities around the world,” said Reed in a Facebook post on Monday. “And our early experiments with events like these have delivered great results for fans, broadcasters, and rights holders,” he added.
So, you can expect to find a lot more sports-oriented broadcasts on Facebook very soon.
The company has already made it clear that its future lies in video, but its latest deal may be a reaction to the major partnerships being struck by a certain rival. Just last month, Twitter locked down around 70 hours of live content from the PGA Tour. Previously, the social platform live-streamed NFL, NHL, and college sports games.
In its letter to shareholders — shared alongside its fourth-quarter earnings results last week — Twitter claimed it nabbed 31 million unique viewers, who tuned in to more than 600 hours of live video across around 400 general events between September and December. The majority of that content (52 percent) was devoted to sports, with the rest made up of political and news live-streams.
In September, Twitter debuted its very own video-centric app for third-party devices, including Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Xbox One, and Android TV. Now, word is that Facebook is developing its very own video app for set-top boxes too. Therefore, we can expect to see this type of jostling for viewers to carry on throughout 2017 as the two platforms strike even more content deals for their respective products. Regardless of who ends up on top, the real winners are the viewers.