Sports media and sports business observers were abuzz over the latest news about Facebook’s new contract with Major League Baseball. It allows Facebook to stream one game a week without any local blackouts. This is on top of Twitter’s deal to stream one MLB a game, albeit with local blackouts.
And in the NFL, there’s Amazon’s deal to stream Thursday Night Football, Verizon will have one game all to itself in London and there are other contracts on Facebook and Twitter that allow them to pick up college sports, golf, soccer and other sports.
The main thing is that the tech companies are not producing their own content, they’re picking it up from the broadcast networks, regional sports networks, league-owned networks or league digital arms. So right now, Amazon, Facebook and Twitter are the conduits. Television is producing the content while the techs are providing the infrastructure to stream.
But the next step for the techs is to produce the games themselves. The question is do they want to? Producing games means getting a production truck, hiring a producer, director technical staff, camera-persons and on-air talent. The tech companies do have cash, but do they want to get into the production business?
That’s the million dollar question. Networks understand this and have done it for years. Do they want to continue to do the hard work and allow the tech companies to pick up their content? Verizon has streamed CBS, ESPN, Fox and NBC games for its NFL mobile contract and the networks have quietly gritted their teeth as their content is being picked up by a third party and is making money off of it.
So will we see the techs decide to produce the games on their own in the future? Maybe the sports leagues will require it if a company wants an exclusive package. For now, Amazon, Facebook and Twitter are streaming pre-packaged content and they’re happy to do it. We’ll see if they decide to go it alone down the line.