MLB To Live-Stream 20 Games on Facebook This Season
A weekly game will be available for free each Friday the U.S. without blackouts
Major League Baseball will stream 20 games this season as part of a deal announced by MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred following the league’s quarterly owners meetings today. A game streamed each Friday night for the remainder of the season will be accessible to everyone on Facebook in the U.S. (with no blackouts) via the official MLB Facebook Page (www.facebook.com/mlb). The Facebook stream will be a feed produced by the participating team’s local broadcast-rights holder. The first of 20 game broadcasts on Facebook will begin tomorrow at a Colorado Rockies-Cincinnati Reds matchup (7:10 p.m. ET), with additional games to be announced at a later date. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
“Probably the most important single announcement [from the owners meetings] is, we’ve done an agreement with Facebook,” Manfred said at a press conference today. “It’s really important for us in terms of experimenting with a new partner in this area. We are really excited about this new partnership.”
This marks MLB’s latest live-streaming effort with Facebook. In 2011, before the introduction of Facebook Live, MLB.com streamed selected spring-training games live on Facebook (by embedding the MLB.TV video player into the Facebook Pages of the participating teams).
Since the launch of Facebook Live, MLB has produced a variety of programming for the platform, including 12:25 Live With Alexa (featuring host Alexa Datt and special guests); for special ceremonies around the league, such as Vin Scully’s induction into the Dodger Stadium Ring of Honor and the Chicago Cubs raising their World Series banner; for World Series pre/postgame coverage, such as MLB.com studio host/reporter Tim McMaster interviewing baseball legends prior the game; and for press conferences and more.
MLB routinely goes live for Box Break, an interactive show in which a full box of baseball cards is opened live on Facebook. MLB also uses Facebook Live to bring fans behind the scenes, including Toronto Blue Jays slugger Josh Donaldson’s off-season workouts, batting practice on Opening Day, and spring training when Sean Casey and Robert Flores answered questions from fans at Cubs camp.
“Baseball games are uniquely engaging community experiences, as the chatter and rituals in the stands are often as meaningful to fans as the action on the diamond,” says Dan Reed, head of global sports partnerships, Facebook. “By distributing a live game per week on Facebook, Major League Baseball can re-imagine this social experience on a national scale. We’re thrilled to work with MLB to enable baseball fans on Facebook to watch live games and connect with friends and fellow fans around the action, no matter where they live in the U.S., and are excited to help the league continue to reach new audiences on our platform.”