As Facebook moves ever closer to its IPO, news comes of another move designed to illustrate the social media behemoth is opening up avenues that hold the potential for significant revenue growth in the future -- and therefore, enhanced shareholder returns.
But it’s also the sort of move that could prove to be more significant for brands than the recent (and financially more spectacular) acquisition of Instagram.
As reported by FT.com, London-based digital video provider Perform Group has struck a deal to offer a range of international sports on a subscription basis -- using the emergent Facebook Credits currency -- to Facebook’s 900 million users globally, through as many as 50 distinct “channels."
Having already struck a similar deal with YouTube and LG for that company’s connected TVs, Perform is betting that Facebook will become its largest source of subscribers.
In hoping to leverage the international audience for sports, ranging from Italian soccer to Aussie rules football, the company will be looking to tap into the passion of both expat and foreign fans of sports outside of their company of origin. Imagine if you lived in Europe or the Far East -– how much would you pay to see your beloved Knicks, Mets, Yankees, Steelers etc?
And -- so the thinking goes – if you’re on Facebook, there is no need to go elsewhere.
Perform will deliver the content through its Livesport.tv service. No one knows just how many people will watch full games via the Web, the company at least avoids costly carriage deals with MSOs and the challenge of building a compelling destination site that stands alone.
The hope is also that this will help to establish Facebook as a video destination beyond clips and content shared by users. If long-form video can find an audience (as it probably will over time), then the potential to secure a larger slice of brand advertising dollars seems that much greater.
But if Perform -- and others that follow its lead -- help to blaze a path that establishes Facebook as a long-form video platform for content that cannot otherwise be readily (or affordably) accessed, then the door for brands to do the same will be open.
Any brand that has successfully established an international association with a certain type of content (Pepsi and music, for example) would theoretically be able to establish a channel relevant to the brand and the target audience as a means of extending that association. It could leverage the facets of the Web to build email lists, run promotions, branding campaigns and the rest.
While it wouldn’t be a trivial matter and not every brand could do it, with the amount of video in the archives and the amount being produced around events, the opportunity for forward-looking brands is clear. They can have their own branded content channels within the wonderful world of Facebook.
In an eerie stroke of coincidence, Pepsi has announced a partnership with Twitter to stream concerts. Not too many details yet, but the first concert is slated for June. Perhaps we shouldn't overlook the little blue bird in the move to long-form video in social media.