If you thought the pay-per-view model was something only good for boxing, MMA, and professional wrestling, Facebook is hoping you’ll consider it for other sports programming on their platform.
After attempting to make a big splash with MLB, college football, and other major sports products, Facebook scaled back its live sports push in 2020 to focus more on clips from networks, sports events, and talk shows. But as Twitter, Amazon, and streaming services continue to make inroads in those spaces, Facebook isn’t quite ready to abandon ship on live sports programming.
Looking for a way to differentiate its offerings and potentially generate more money for some sports companies and entities, the social media giant has plans to turn its live online events product into a pay-per-view option, per CNBC.
Before you start panicking that your favorite franchise might require a $19.99 payment to watch there, Facebook says their vision for the PPV model is geared more towards high school sports teams and smaller leagues. For example, a professional triathlon event called Challenge Miami used the platform to charge $2.99 for tickets. The event drew over 17,000 people online, many of whom were from outside the U.S.
“That goes to show the ability of sports infusion — to go and extend the reach beyond the current locale of the event, which is tremendous,” Yoav Arnstein, Facebook’s director of product management, told CNBC.
Facebook launched paid online events in August 2020 in 44 global markets. Coupled with its reported 2.85 billion monthly active users and 1.8 billion daily active users, that’s a lot of potential to geotarget built-in audiences for specific sports, leagues, and events.
The social media company told CNBC that users will have to pass “integrity checks” to gain approval to host events, which will cut down on the potential for explicit or illegal content. So while Facebook might be looking at a platform like OnlyFans to see the potential, they’re not interested in getting in the same game as them. As for what their partners can broadcast, Facebook is apparently open to sporting events, gaming tournaments, new product reveals, and many other paid livestreaming opportunities.
Facebook also says they are testing a geofencing feature that allows hosts to target specific regions where they want events to stream. If the company has any hopes of attracting pro sports leagues and franchises to this feature one day, that’s going to be a requirement.
“I think this will catch on to every league and media company,” Rob Shaw, Facebook director of sports media and league partnerships, told CNBC. “It’s going to be challenging to figure out how they can thread the needle to be able to do this. But once they do, on the other side, there is an ability to engage and interact with a completely different audience than those who would watch it on television.”
“In the new marketer’s playbook,” he added, “it’s all about reaching and engaging with an audience which you are then able to drive business outcomes.”