America’s erstwhile national pastime is getting a shot in the arm thanks to Facebook, which revealed that it will begin streaming live Major League Baseball games as part of a new deal with the pro sports organization.
The partnership is the latest such agreement between Facebook and a pro sports league, as the world’s biggest social network seeks to bolster its live video offerings.
Under the terms of the agreement, Facebook will live stream 20 regular season games on the MLB’s main Facebook page on Friday nights, using the feed from the home team’s local broadcast TV rights-holder.
The live streaming program kicks off tonight, Friday May 19, at 7:10 p.m. with the Cincinnati Reds home game against the Colorado Rockies, with the schedule for future weekly streams to be announced; no blackouts will apply to these games.
Facebook’s global head of sports partnerships stressed the communal aspect of spectator sports in a statement: “Baseball games are uniquely engaging community experiences, as the chatter and rituals in the stands are often as meaningful to fans as the action on the diamond. By distributing a live game per week on Facebook, Major League Baseball can re-imagine this social experience on a national scale.”
MLB has already used Facebook for digital video broadcasts, for example live streaming news and analysis, league ceremonies, and press conferences around games in the most recent World Series championship.
In addition, the world’s largest social network has also entered into a live-streaming agreement for Major League Soccer games.Facebook isn’t the only big social platform cultivating a video audience with live sports content.
Last year, for example, Twitter secured a deal with the NFL to live stream Thursday Night Football games, followed by deals with the MLB and NHL to live stream one out-of-market game per week.
Twitter also partnered with the NBA to stream 360-degree videos of the NBA finals games last year.
In April of this year, Twitter and the NFL announced a multiyear partnership, encompassing everything except full-length games.