On Friday morning, Major League Baseball announced that they would be airing 25 games exclusively on Facebook Watch this season. The package of games is made up of mid-week afternoon games, and will be produced by MLB Network.
In addition to the live games, MLB will be creating highlights and team-specific weekly recaps for Facebook.
MLB will produce and distribute specially curated content, in addition to each live game broadcast, including on-demand highlight packages for every regular season game, as well as club-specific weekly recap packages for all 30 MLB teams. These will be available on Facebook Watch in the U.S. and around the world.
The Facebook broadcasts of the games will also contain “a variety of presentation and interactivity innovations,” which will be revealed in the future (as will the broadcasters for the games).
Perhaps more importantly for local viewers is that the games will be airing *exclusively* on Facebook. AA has been informed that means there will be no local broadcasts or streaming for the day games included in this package.
The series starts with the Phillies-Mets game at 1:10 PM on Wednesday, April 4th. It continues with Brewers-Cardinals at 1:15 PM on Wednesday, April 11th, Royals-Blue Jays at 4:07 PM on Wednesday, April 18th, and Diamondbacks-Phillies at 1:05 PM on Thursday, April 26th.
For those Blue Jays fans concerned about not being able to see the game on April 18th, the games included in this package “will be available globally,” so you won’t be shut out of watching.
Last year, Facebook aired 20 MLB games (on a non-exclusive basis), mainly on Friday nights. The social network has also exclusively aired 15 college football games as well as over 50 college basketball games this season with the bulk coming from the Mountain West, Atlantic 10, and Conference USA. Facebook has also shown interest in highlights and shoulder programming where they reportedly held talks with the World Cup and did two-year deal with the NFL for highlights along with distribution of popular NFL Films shows like Turning Point and Sound FX. Soccer has been Facebook’s main interest, however, airing matches from the Champions League, CONCACAF Champions League, MLS, and Liga MX over the last year-plus.
For this deal to be labeled a success, the games can’t be awful matchups. The four games announced thus far aren’t great, but they’re far from pure garbage. I’m sure we’re not going to see, say Red Sox-Yankees on Facebook any time soon, but as long as every other game doesn’t feature a team like the Padres, Rays, or Tigers, there’s some appeal here for fans.
But given that I really have no idea how many people are actually watching random mid-week, mid-day baseball games in each market, MLB will probably still end up reaching more people than if they just aired the games locally and on MLB.tv.