This MLB season, Facebook will get exclusive rights to stream afternoon MLB games, starting with the first game on April 4th between Philadelphia Phillies and the New York Mets, according to a report from Bloomberg. The company also had 20 non-exclusive Major League Baseball games last season and acquired exclusive rights to stream 47 college basketball games involving smaller conferences this year.
Produced by MLB Network and its production team specifically for Facebook Watch across its supported devices, including mobile phones and connected televisions, this package of weekday afternoon games will debut a variety of presentation and interactivity innovations.
The move marks the first time that one of the major U.S. professional sports leagues has agreed to have regular season games distributed only on Facebook.
Facebook will kick off its Major League Baseball games streaming on April 4th when the Philadelphia Phillies and the New York Mets go head to head.
Dan Reed, Facebook head of global sports partnerships, said: "We're excited to extend our partnership with Major League Baseball to make Facebook Watch a home for exclusive, live games every week this season".
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The new agreement is valued between $30 million to $35 million, according to Bloomberg.
MLB Network will produce the games, "meaning they'll have a broadcast look and feel". For Facebook, however, the rights allow for experimentation with things like social integration and graphics during the broadcast, enhancements popular with younger viewers drawn to digital platforms.
Facebook will broadcast the action via the MLB Live show page on Facebook Watch.
Major League Baseball will also produce and distribute curated content in addition to each live game on Facebook.
Although Facebook opted out of a bidding war for the NFL's Thursday Night Football games, its roster of sports streams has expanded greatly in recent years with soccer, college basketball and now professional baseball. Late past year, sources told Sports Business Journal that Facebook planned to spend "a few billion dollars" on sports streaming deals. Facebook Watch is the site's video hub for original and live content.