According to Darren Rovell, Major League Baseball and Facebook have struck a deal that will allow the social media Goliath to broadcast one national afternoon game per week over the course of the 2018 season.
This represents the first time that a major North American sports league has agreed to broadcast games exclusively on Facebook. Over the past few years, Facebook has been scooping up broadcast rights to multiple different sports leagues. Last year, they struck a deal with FOX Sports to have UEFA Champions League games and with Univision to broadcast Mexican soccer. They’ve also had non-exclusive deals with Major League Baseball in the past.
All of these games are afternoon games during the week and they’ll be produced by the MLB Network. So while there is potential for Facebook to experiment with different ways of creating content for its viewers, this is ultimately going to be watching MLB Network on Facebook.
This is yet another example of the growing trend of sports and entertainment shifting to a new media platform. In the past, we’ve seen Twitter air baseball and football games, but they never had the same exclusive rights that Facebook has gained through this deal. Facebook pushed hard for this deal, of course, as Amazon recently snatched Thursday Night Football from Twitter. Another player in this game is YouTube, who was the first-ever title sponsor of the World Series last fall.
What does this mean? Not a hell of a lot, right now. These games are being aired on Facebook in the United States, so it won’t effect most of us. But, ultimately, like I said, this is another step in major sporting events moving to a new platform. We’re still a ways away from marquee games like the Super Bowl and World Series being aired exclusively on Facebook or produced by Amazon or YouTube, but that’s the aim of these juggernauts.
To put it bluntly, what Facebook and all the others are seeking here is to get you to spend the most time on their platform as possible. If you watch an entire ball game on Facebook, the platform will then be able to track and record everything else you do on your browser while it’s happening. In turn, they’ll have a massive treasure box of rich marketing data on what kinds of things you’re searching and what you want to consume that they can sell to clients.
Have you had an example of searching something and seeing targeted ads to that thing you searched soon after? Even more spooky, have you talked about something with another individual in the room while having a certain platform open on your phone and computer and then seen targeted ads around something you talked about? *puts on tinfoil hat* Mark Zuckerberg’s big-picture plan is to make the platform so all-encompassing that you use it instead of browsing the web. You not only look at photos of friends on facebook, but bank on facebook, find products on facebook, and watch 162 baseball games on facebook.
Getting this deal is more than likely a direct response to Amazon, as I mentioned earlier. While Amazon is a mammoth in the world of retail, they’re also quickly looking to vertically integrate into Facebook’s turf in the world of marketing. At the forefront of that is their in-home service Alexa, which helps Amazon gather data on your purchasing habits and in turn market certain things back to you.
Oh, hey, look, The Simpsons predicted another thing in this absurd simulated version of hell in which we exist.