- Facebook signed a deal with Major League Soccer (MLS) and Univision Communications' Univision Deportes to live stream at least 22 MLS games this season across its platforms, according to Variety. Univision Deportes owns the U.S. broadcast rights for MLS games.
- In February, Facebook cut a similar deal with Univision to live stream 46 Liga MX soccer games from Mexico with commentary in English and the live stream limited to the U.S.
- Variety reports the MLS will additionally create 40 "Matchday Shows" exclusive to Facebook, which will showcase highlights, sports analysis and game previews from across the league.
Facebook's strategy to offer more TV-like, premium video content, including live sports and long-form scripted and unscripted shows, continues to expand. Just a few weeks ago, it was reported the social giant was in advanced talks with the MLB to broker a similar deal to the MLS one. The hope is that, as ad space dries up in Facebook's core News Feed, such offerings will create new advertising revenue streams.
For an organization like the MLS, which is popular worldwide but not necessarily in the United States, options to stream games for free on Facebook might attract new fans, as Facebook reaches a massive total audience of over 1.8 billion users.
Twitter, which was early to cut live streaming deals with sports leagues including the NFL last season, has similarly announced plans to double down on live video offerings this year, with a focus on underserved pieces of content like e-sports and lacrosse, which have dedicated fan bases but can't necessarily attract big advertisers on broadcast television and cable.
Sports leagues are also chasing viewers who have either cut the cord or simply don’t watch games on TV as often, which is a growing trend among highly valued younger demographic groups, in particular. As more digital alternatives pick up streaming rights with major media partners, marketers who typically allocate budgets toward TV advertising might start to eye these offerings more closely.