Facebook just scored something big in live.
The social networking giant will livestream regular season matches of American soccer through a partnership with Major League Soccer and Univision Deportes, the companies announced Friday.
The deal includes at least 22 matches of the 2017 season with the first game on March 18 of Atlanta United hosting the Chicago Fire. They will be broadcasted on Univision networks in Spanish but will be available on Facebook in English via Univision Deportes Facebook page.
It’s not the first time Facebook has scored in live and in live, professional soccer. Through a partnership with Univision, Facebook is streaming 46 games from Mexico’s top soccer league Liga MX to the network’s U.S. users.
What’s interesting here is that Univision Deportes has committed to exclusive content and commentary for these games. It’s not just a translation from Spanish to English. Rather, the games will have “Facebook-specific commentators, interactive graphics and fan Q&A and polling features,” according to the press release.
That’s a giant leap from Facebook’s previous efforts in live video, which have for the most part been going after user-generated content and paying other media companies, mostly news and entertainment brands, to produce shows.
This development could be bad news for Twitter, which has bet its future on live-streaming professional content, as well as Amazon and other streaming platforms. Facebook has access to nearly 2 billion monthly active users.
The games won’t have ads. The terms of the agreement weren’t disclosed.
Major League Soccer also is producing 40 “Matchday Live” shows on Facebook. The shows will include highlights and analysis ahead of the game.
This partnership is only “natural,” according to the president of the network. And Facebook is an obvious partner for this effort. Soccer is the most followed (via users liking Facebook Pages) sport on the social network.
“As the undisputed home of soccer in the U.S., Univision Deportes, together with MLS and Facebook, is committed to growing the sport across platforms and regardless of language,” said Juan Carlos Rodriguez, president of Univision Deportes, in a statement.
“Further engaging the more than 18 million English-language viewers that have watched soccer on Univision coupled with the continued success of our MLS broadcasts, including our record-setting season opener, is a natural path in this new era of content consumption,” he continued.
What this means for soccer fans on Facebook: it’s a new way to watch live sports.
“So even if they’re not at the stadium, people can watch the game on Facebook with a great view of the action while interacting with a highly engaged community of fans,” Dan Reed, Facebook Head of Global Sports Partnerships, said in a statement.
What this mean for everyone else: easily consumable soccer if you so wish to watch. And, for sure, more live-streaming deals to come. Digital rights to the National Football League Thursday night games are still up for grabs.