MENLO PARK, CA.: Facebook has demonstrated its interest in streaming live sports following an unsuccessful $600m bid for the rights to broadcast cricket matches in India, as the social network interviews candidates for a sports rights negotiator.
Big tech companies have shown great interest in one of live TV’s key assets over the last year. Facebook’s new hire surfaced in a story from Sports Business Journal reported by Recode. Sources told the Journal’s John Ourand that the new executive will enjoy a budget of a “few billion dollars” to spend on global sports deals.
While the figure is colossal outside of the sports rights world, the figure is consistent with the kind of sums required to enter the sports broadcasting game seriously. Consider the £4.2bn that Sky paid in 2015 to secure the rights to the UK’s Premier League.
In the US, DirecTV reportedly agreed to pay the NFL $1.5bn a year for the right to broadcast the “Sunday Ticket” package. For the NBA rights, ESPN and Turner are paying a reported $2.6bn.
The vague language suggests that Facebook isn’t looking to secure exclusive rights. However, a streaming-only arrangement sold alongside a TV deal could be a useful entry for the company. Both Twitter and Amazon have followed this strategy with the sale of NFL Thursday night streaming rights going first to Twitter for $10m and to Amazon this year for $50m.
In September, Facebook bid $600m to stream India’s IPL matches for 5 years - $120m per year. Eventually, the deal went to the Rupert Murdoch-owned Star India, which agreed to pay $2.6bn for a TV and digital deal.
Facebook’s participation in the bidding process suggests that the company means business in a space where other tech giants have been throwing about their weight. In August, Amazon Prime Video won the rights to broadcast all top-level men’s tennis in the UK – except for grand slams – in a deal reported to be worth around £10m a year.
Sourced from Recode, The Guardian, WARC; additional content by WARC staff