Is Facebook Becoming the One-Stop Shop for Online Sports Streaming?


Social media is known for quickly spreading news and data across the web and is now moving into live sports more than ever. Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ: FB) recently announced that it has inked a deal with Major League Soccer (MLS) to stream 22 live matches from the 2017 regular season on its social network. The social media giant is taking a page from the Twitter Inc. (NYSE: TWTR) playbook, but this is not unheard of for Facebook.

After seeing what Facebook has in the works for the MLS, among other sports leagues, will this social media giant be the one-stop shop for everyone’s online sports streaming needs? Currently Watch ESPN has the broadest selection of sports available to watch online, but at the rate that Facebook has been gaining ground there could be a little concern.

Both Twitter and Facebook have moved steadily in the direction to live streaming, whether it is for a personal update, the presidential election or even something happening on the local news.

This all started when Twitter’s platform first introduced Periscope in May 2015, although it had somewhat of a slow start. Facebook introduced Live back in April 2016, which is more or less the equivalent of Periscope. Each of these platforms laid the foundation for the live streaming service that each company offers.

As part of the live-stream from the MLS, there will be Facebook-specific commentators and graphics. Not to mention the whole idea of social media, that fans will be more closely connected to comment on and react to the game themselves.

Recently, even Univision has collaborated with Facebook’s Live platform to live stream Mexican soccer matches in English. According to a separate deal with Univision, Facebook will live stream 46 matches of the Mexican soccer league in 2017.

Looking ahead to further expand this base, Facebook is reportedly in talks with Major League Baseball (MLB) to live stream one game per week during the upcoming season. By aggressively pursuing sports content, Facebook is further competing with traditional media outlets for viewership and ultimately advertising revenue.

Going after a brand name property like MLB seems like a natural progression, with potentially the National Basketball Association (NBA) on the horizon, among others.

In the past, Twitter partnered with the National Football League (NFL) to live stream its Thursday night games. The deal was for Twitter to stream 10 games for a total of $10 million. Unfortunately, this didn’t move the needle that much for user growth, but it did introduce the idea of watching live sports on social media.

The NFL is one of the most popular sports leagues in the United States, and it flopped on Twitter. This could be a question of the platform, more so than the content. This remains to be seen in how Facebook does with the MLS.

Shares of Facebook were trading at $138.25 Monday morning, with a consensus analyst price target of $159.46 and a 52-week trading range of $106.31 to $139.49.

Twitter traded at $15.15. The consensus price target is $14.20, and the 52-week range is $13.73 to $25.25.

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