We’ve seen Facebook amass a rather diverse inventory of live sports. Whether it’s a weekly MLB game, UEFA Champions League fixtures, MLS matches, or college football, the social media giant has collected a large library of games. But one interesting development came up recently and it gave a lot of food for thought to many analysts. Facebook recently bid $600 million for streaming rights to the Indian Premier League cricket matches.

Eventually, Rupert Murdoch’s Star Sports won the bid for TV and streaming rights over Sony for a total of $2.6 billion. While the Facebook bid was tiny compared to Star, it showed that the company was willing to pay a price for live sports.

Previously, it appeared that Facebook wasn’t willing to spend the big bucks for live sports, willing to make second-tier deals, but now with this latest development, it may give a signal to those who were waiting to see if the tech companies were going to loosen their purse strings on sports properties.

The Indian Premier League tweeted a summary of the bidders and Facebook was the only tech company to bid on the rights while Disney’s BAMTech appeared to pass:

In an interesting move, the IPL actually livestreamed the media rights bidding process. Imagine if the NFL decided to do that!

We’ve seen Twitter and Amazon take the plunge for Thursday Night Football and Verizon spend big money for one NFL game in this season’s Week 3. Verizon also has the contract for NFL mobile rights that ends after this season. It’s worth $1 billion and perhaps that’s a target for Facebook that would allow it to get in with the NFL before the big media rights deals expire in the early 2020’s.

The bid for cricket may not make big news here in the United States, but among the U.S. sports leagues looking for new money, Facebook’s offer may have made them stand up and notice.


About Ken Fang

Ken has been covering the sports media in earnest at his own site, Fang's Bites since May 2007 and at Awful Announcing since March 2013.

He provides a unique perspective having been an award-winning radio news reporter in Providence and having worked in local television.

Fang celebrates the four Boston Red Sox World Championships in the 21st Century, but continues to be a long-suffering Cleveland Browns fan.