Report: Will Facebook Live's piracy problem dent its video credibility?
- Pirated Major League Baseball (MLB) and National Football League (NFL) games streamed via Facebook Live might be becoming a greater issue for the platform, according to a report in Ad Age.
- Ad Age said there's no concrete way to gauge whether pirated streams are growing, but any sort of presence might prove frustrating for the MLB and other sports leagues like Major League Soccer (MLS), both of which have official deals in place for content delivered via the platform. Facebook is also in the early stages of launching its new premium video tab Watch, a feature whose credibility might take a hit if piracy proves a persistent issue. Announced earlier this summer, Facebook's deal with MLB includes 20 games streamed this season, but the full terms weren't disclosed.
- Former marketing executive and digital content watchdog Eric Feinberg told Ad Age that essentially every NFL game is pirated on Facebook Live and YouTube. He said that there are potentially billions of dollars at risk if the problem is not tamped down.
Live streaming has always been a bit of a Wild West for social platforms — Facebook is all too familiar with how difficult to monitor the real-time video format is — but piracy has been a more under-the-radar problem that might come into sharper focus as companies like Facebook win more deals with major media and entertainment entities. The news also comes as streaming rights for official sports content are becoming more desirable and competitive to snap up for digital platforms.
Amazon, in the most noteworthy example, recently paid the NFL $50 million plus additional marketing incentives to live stream 10 Thursday Night Football games this season on Amazon Prime Video, beating out Facebook, YouTube and others in a bidding war. If piracy continues to proliferate on Facebook, professional leagues like the NFL might be put off and continue to opt for more regulated services like over-the-top video.
Another issue for Facebook is that existing partners like MLB and MLS won't be pleased that the very platform they are counting on for digital streaming of games also hosts unauthorized feeds of those same games, potentially siphoning off ad revenue and audience engagement. Facebook's partners might lose confidence in the platform's ability to control how content is shared and distributed — a deterioration of trust that could extend to its new premium video service Watch.
Facebook is hedging a lot of its bets on Watch providing fresh revenue as ad load growth continues to taper off, so an early hit to the social giant's video credibility could prove to be especially damaging.