Major League Baseball (MLB) and Facebook today unveiled a newly expanded partnership for the 2018 MLB season, highlighted by what it calls is a “historic” agreement to produce and broadcast one game every week to a global audience on Facebook.
In a unanimous vote from all 30 MLB teams, 25 games are to be broadcasted exclusively on Facebook Watch in the United States via the MLB’s Live show Facebook page – marking the sports league’s first digital-only national broadcasts. Every game also will be available globally on the show page, excluding select international markets.
In a statement, MLB said these games will be produced by MLB Network and its production team specifically for Facebook Watch across its supported devices, including mobile phones and connected televisions. The mobile-first package of weekday afternoon games, they said “will debut a variety of presentation and interactivity innovations.” MLB Network will introduce new in-game production elements specially designed for watching, sharing and interacting on the social network. Details on those social integrations, as well as broadcast talent, will be announced "at a later date."
In addition, MLB has set up the production and distribution of specially curated content in addition to each live game broadcast, including on-demand highlight packages for every regular season game as well as club-specific weekly recap packages for all 30 MLB teams. These will be available on Facebook Watch in the United States, as well as its global audience of baseball fans.
Tony Petitti, deputy commissioner of business and media for Major League Baseball, said: “This partnership with Facebook reflects the ongoing commitment of Major League Baseball and our clubs to connect with people around the world. It is a major creative step forward in serving our diverse, passionate community of fans, who will enjoy a uniquely interactive experience watching our games on Facebook each week.”
Dan Reed, Facebook's head of global sports partnerships, added, “We're excited to extend our partnership with Major League Baseball to make Facebook Watch a home for exclusive, live games every week this season. Community and conversation are central to both baseball and Facebook, and MLB Network’s innovative broadcasts will bring these interactive and social elements of the game to life to fans around the world in new ways on our platform.”
Last May, MLB and Facebook partnered to live stream 20 games during the 2017 regular season with those airing weekly on Friday nights as national simulcasts of a participating team’s local television broadcast. MLB also has leveraged Facebook Live since it launched for behind the scenes content to connect its fans with the players from each of its 30 teams.
After Facebook launched its Watch platform in late 2017, brands and marketers have been finding ways to leverage it fairly quickly. A few days ago, Kim Kardashian announced that she'll have her own unscripted series on the platform. Soccer team Real Madrid was one of the first sports entities to work a deal with Facebook Watch as well, airing Hala Madrid on the site last August.