Facebook not ruling out bidding for Premier League live matches
As speculations about Facebook entering the English football market are rife, Facebook has refused to rule out a bid for live streaming Premier League matches. While saying that it would be premature to speculate how they might approach the opportunity, the digital giant's head of sports stressed that the Premier League is its important partner and did not rule out bidding for broadcast rights.
Premier league broadcast rights for the period 2019-22 are set to be auctioned in 2018. Sky Sports and BT Sports, together spent around £8.4 billion for TV broadcasting rights for the 2016-19 deal. Reportedly, Facebook and Amazon were also interested in the deal. However, a drop in Premier League TV viewership numbers of late, indicates the increasing popularity of digital streaming platforms.
In the first half of 2017, Facebook broadcasted more than 3,500 different sports events live. This includes streaming of Champions league games in the US, in partnership with Fox Sports. The social media biggie also has broadcast deals with Major League Baseball, Major League Soccer, and World Surf League. Facebook recently launched a video content platform called "Watch" in the US, ideal for sports.
Facebook, the most successful social media platform, quotes that out of its 2 billion users a month, at least 650 million are sports fans. This number doesn't include the 200 million users on its photo-sharing app, Instagram.
Amazon is also interested in bidding for Premier League rights. They partnered with NFL to stream the 10 Thursday night games and also acquired rights to stream ATP Tour tennis in 2018. Twitter too has signed deals which include showing Premier League goals and highlights in real time, and a deal to stream Wimbledon highlights, which they did earlier this year.
In early September, Facebook had tried to acquire the broadcast rights for IPL with a £450 million (Rs 3,849 cr) bid. But eventually Star won both TV and digital rights for broadcasting IPL.