NFL, Facebook Reach Deal to Stream Game Highlights

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Credit: NFL

The National Football League has a new deal with Facebook to start showing highlights from its games in the social network's new Watch video hub.

The rights deal puts football game highlights and other original programs from the league on the social network. The NFL has similar partnerships with Twitter and Snapchat, and streams full games to Amazon thanks to a yearly digital rights deal.

The NFL has been planting content across digital channels and on its own properties as it tests the future of football distribution and advertising.

Facebook opened a YouTube-like video section this summer, Watch, and it has worked with publishers, sports leagues and entertainment studios to develop content for the platform. It also sells advertising in the videos, splitting ad revenue with the content owners.

This deal is undoubtedly less robust than Facebook would like to strike with a sports league because it doesn't bring full games to the platform. Instead, the NFL will post highlights from every game, and three league-based shows. The highlights will stream worldwide and the shows will be available only in the U.S.

Facebook has tried to negotiate for full games before, and it was in the running this past year when "Thursday Night Football" rights ultimately went to Amazon for $50 million.

The less ambitious package of content is similar to Twitter and Snapchat's NFL packages, where the league also posts clips from games and content, and ads are served.

The NFL, which has seen decreasing TV ratings over the past two years, is striking out into digital in search of younger audiences, a group increasingly hard to find on television.

Facebook is trying to attract top-shelf entertainment brands to Watch, and the NFL certainly fits that bill. This summer, Facebook reportedly lost out on a bid to stream international cricket, which sold to 21st Century Fox's Star India for $2.6 billion.

Facebook plans to spend big, too, for other content rights, which could cost the company more than $1 billion in the year ahead.

Terms of the NFL deal were not revealed, and the NFL and Facebook could not immediately be reached for comment.

Also on Tuesday, Twitter announced a new sports deal, extending a partnership with professional golf in which it streams tournaments to the platform.

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