Facebook targets Eurosport CEO Peter Hutton to ramp up its sports streaming push

Peter Hutton to join Facebook

Facebook is believed to be on the verge of hiring Eurosport chief executive Peter Hutton in what will be seen as further evidence of its live sports broadcasting ambitions.

It was first reported in the Guardian that the Eurosport boss will disembark from the Discovery-owned broadcaster to lead Facebook's sports streaming push ahead of the 9 February deadline for bids for English Premier League packages.

The Drum understands, however, that Hutton will not be joining the social giant until after the Premier League rights have gone out to tender, scuppering his involvement in this process.

Instead he is expected to remain in post until the end of next month's Winter Olympics, which Eurosport will be the official broadcaster of for the first time. Hutton has talked at length about the digital coverage plans for the event in an interview which will be published in the February edition of The Drum magazine.

Facebook earlier this week announced that it is to depriortise publisher content in its newsfeed, including video, to favour user-generated posts instead. Down the line this may pave a path for its own content to fill the space.

This year the Silicon Valley firm plans to sink $1bn into its Watch platform to generate original content. It is testing pre and mid-roll ad formats to monestise these efforts.

And digital rights for live sports are firmly in its sights. Last year, it issued a failed bid for the Indian Premier League cricket coverage at what would have amounted to a $600m outlay. The rights went to Rupert Murdoch's Star India who blew Facebook out of the water with a £1.97bn bid.

But in its quest for live sport Facebook may run into stiff competition from fellow digital player Amazon. In November, the retail and streaming giant added four years of live ATP Tour tennis to a sports rights schedule that already included Thursday night NFL games. It has been heavily tipped to be in the shake-up for Premier League rights at next month's auction.

Hutton has previous experience at sports rights group MP and Silva, as well as broadcasters ESPN and Fox.

The Drum has reached out to Discovery and Facebook to firm up the details of the move.

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