Facebook Says Play Ball in Exclusive Deal to Stream 25 MLB Games

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Starlin Castro of the Yankees faces the Angels during a game last summer.
Starlin Castro of the Yankees faces the Angels during a game last summer. Credit: Scott Clarke / ESPN Images

Facebook has reached a deal with Major League Baseball for exclusive rights to stream 25 afternoon games on the social network in the U.S.

It's the first time a major U.S. league has agreed to show regular season games exclusively on Facebook, which has been building a portfolio of live sports. MLB owners unanimously approved the move, the league said. Neither MLB nor Facebook disclosed the financial terms.

"Much like the migration of sports from broadcast to cable, you're reaching these milestones where the combination of the financial incentive and the audience allow you to make the next great leap," said Lee Berke, an industry consultant. "This is part of the next great leap."

Sports, especially the NFL, remains the biggest thing on traditional TV as ratings their continue to decline.

The games add to Facebook's growing sports lineup. Last year, the company struck deals with Fox Sports to stream the UEFA Champions League and with Univision to broadcast live games from Mexico's top soccer league. The company also had 20 non-exclusive MLB games last season and acquired exclusive rights to stream 47 college basketball games involving smaller conferences this year.

With 1.4 billion active daily users, the world's biggest social network is also still growing, in contrast with conventional TV networks that have been losing viewers and advertising. Facebook's ad revenue last year totaled $40 billion.

-- Bloomberg News

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