Facebook and the MLB’s streaming relationship will be drastically different for the 2019 season following a contract renewal Friday. Facebook exclusively streamed 26 games last season but will have just six non-exclusive games, one per month, for the 2019 campaign.
“Collaborating with Facebook will again drive the creation of new ways for us to deliver content to baseball fans that engage on the platform daily,” said MLB executive vice president of global media Chris Tully. ”Facebook provides a community-focused environment that will allow for fans to connect with their favourite teams via custom on-demand content and live game action driven by an original MLB Network social-first broadcast production.”
All six games will air live, available for free to a global audience on Facebook Watch, with limitations to blackout rules and certain international markets.
Last year’s presentation disgruntled MLB.TV customers who were forced to watch on Facebook Watch for the select games. Those fans often had to deal with performance issues and unsavory spam bots, which may speak to the revision for this deal.
According to Morning Consult, Facebook is giving MLB the freedom to sell a sponsorship against the livestreamed broadcasts where the league would take in 100% of the revenue.
Though there have been hiccups in the relationship so far, one success the partnership has seen is a younger audience taking advantage of the live stream since Facebook and the MLB came together in 2017 for 20 games.
“We look forward to testing a new model for live games, which should help the league continue to reach a younger and more global audience,” said Rob Shaw, Facebook’s sports partnerships lead for leagues and media.
Last year’s streams brought in 123 million views over the 25 games with an average viewership 20 years younger than the usual MLB television audience. Both Facebook and the MLB considered 2018 a success thanks to those numbers considering the $30 million renewal for that season.
The financial figures haven’t been released for this season’s deal yet. Though after calling 2018 a success both parties seem to be happy with each other and are using 2019 to work out the kinks.