Facebook, NFL Launch 2-Year Game Highlights Deal

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Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ: FB) has just signed a two-year deal with the National Football League (NFL) giving the social media giant the right to stream game highlights shortly after a game ends. The league is also creating highlights shows exclusively for Facebook that are intended for viewing on Facebook’s “Watch” video platform.

The highlights shows will be available only in the United States in the beginning and the post-game highlight videos will begin immediately and be available to Facebook’s 2 billion or so worldwide users.

Given last weekend’s contretemps between the NFL and President Donald Trump, now may not seem like the best time for Facebook to pay a (surely large) sum to the league for video rights. Social media sites are currently crammed with threats of boycotts and statements of outrage from both sides of the issue of players taking a knee during the pregame playing of the national anthem.

Facebook almost can’t lose with a deal like this though. Die-hard fans will be able to watch the highlight show right after the game and share the videos among their friends. Fans who choose to ignore the NFL broadcasts for whatever reason will be able to watch just the highlights, turning a two-and-a-half hour experience into a three-minute football fix.

The NFL gets even more coverage, especially overseas, where the league has been looking at opportunities for expansion. And what does Facebook stand to gain? Advertising. A classic win-win situation.

When the NFL discussed this kind of arrangement a couple of years ago, Facebook wanted to show video ads at the end of the highlight film. Advertisers were not interested. Now that Facebook can show mid-roll video ads that cannot be skipped, Facebook hopes that advertisers will start lining up again.