The next streaming sports deal looks likely to be between Facebook and Major League Baseball. Facebook has been boosting its inventory of sports streaming rights for years, signing deals for everything from March Madness to Liga MX soccer games. They’ve streamed selected MLB games before (and plenty of games from spring training), but now seem to be looking for more regular baseball content. Meanwhile, MLB is finding more and more ways to get its massive inventory of games out there, bringing in fans and some extra broadcast rights money; they signed a deal with Yahoo last year that let the tech company broadcast one MLB game each day throughout the 2016 season. Now, Reuters’ Jessica Toonkel is reporting that Facebook and MLB are close to a deal:
Facebook Inc. is in talks with Major League Baseball to live stream one game per week during the upcoming season, which could be a key win as the social media platform works to offer more live sports, according to two people familiar with the situation.
…The companies were in advanced talks, according to one source. It was unclear which games MLB would live stream on Facebook. A representative for Facebook and MLB declined to comment.
…Over the past few months, Facebook has live streamed global basketball and soccer matches and table tennis.
Facebook is a compelling company for MLB to work with given its size and global presence, plus how many people use it daily. Offering only one game a week shouldn’t drastically undercut MLB’s existing broadcast deals or pay services like MLB.tv, either. This seems like a good way for both sides to get together on a limited basis, perhaps with more expansion to come down the road if it works well. We’ll see how it plays out, but this certainly would seem to reinforce both Facebook’s interest in live sports and MLB’s interest in spreading its games wider.