- Facebook has signed a two-year deal with the NFL for an undisclosed amount for video recaps and other highlights from pro football games — regular season and playoffs — that it will broadcast to its worldwide audience of 2 billion users, reported Recode. The deal is effective immediately. Facebook Watch, the platform's premium video tab launched in August, will also air highlight shows limited to U.S. viewers.
- The Watch tab content packages include "NFL Turning Point," which features key moments in big games, "Sound FX," focused on audio from players wearing in-game microphones, and "NFL Game Recaps." Each package will have a Facebook channel for fans to like and follow.
- Facebook is paying for the rights to the game highlights and will recoup that investment by serving ads during the video clips. The Recode report speculated that Facebook's mid-roll video ads could make the deal worthwhile for the social media giant.
Facebook might've lost out to Amazon in winning the rights to stream 10 Thursday Night football games this year, but the new deal is a pretty sweet one for the social giant. Many sports fans already turn to social media for game highlights, recaps and analysis, so the package gives it a stable of premium content that will be a huge draw for eyeballs — and potentially a big driver of revenue if the mid-roll ads pick up traction. The NFL deal also represents Facebook's transformation into a media powerhouse, Josh Krichefski, CEO at MediaCom U.K., told Marketing Dive.
"Traditional broadcasting rights are being shaken up by online-first organizations," he said in an emailed statement. "Take a look at Amazon's recent purchase of the ATP tennis tour rights, or Twitter live streaming parts of the PGA golf tour, both of which had previously uninterrupted exclusivity on television."
Big-name brands love to advertise around TV broadcasts of NFL games — pro football is one of the last bastions of true destination viewing — but Facebook might be able to divert some of those ad dollars its own way, which will be necessary as ad load growth on core offerings like News Feed continues to slow in the year's second half.
The NFL, for its part, has been active in searching out a digital audience for its content, previously partnering with Twitter and this year with Amazon, which paid $50 million plus a reported $30 million in marketing and promotion for the league to stream the 10 games. Last year, the NFL also became the first sports league to get its own Snapchat Discover channel with news analysis and behind-the-scenes footage. Focusing more on streaming games comes as TV ratings are overall on the decline, especially among young viewers like millennials and Gen Z.
Adding the NFL to its video roster, as well as original content for the recently launched Watch tab, boosts Facebook's appeal as an online sports destination. In May, it signed a deal to stream 20 Major League Baseball games. The social media giant officially rolled out Watch in August as it angles to compete with digital video options like Netflix and YouTube as well as linear TV. What is driving this trend is mobile viewing with video consumption on smartphones at 57% compared to 18% in 2012, according to Krichefski.