By Jessica Toonkel
NEW YORK (Reuters) – Facebook Inc <FB.O> is in talks with Major League Baseball to live stream one game per week during the upcoming season, which could be a key win as the social media platform works to offer more live sports, according to two people familiar with the situation.
Facebook has pushed to sign deals with owners of sports rights to live stream their games, going after an audience that competitor Twitter Inc <TWTR.N> is also trying to capture, according to sports media consultants.
For social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, live streaming sports is key to attracting people since sports is one of the few types of content that people still watch live.
“Facebook is aggressively going after sports content and they are now one of a number of competitors to traditional media outlets that are going after sports programming,” said sports media consultant Lee Berke. “It makes perfect sense that they would be going after name brand properties like the MLB.”
The companies were in advanced talks, according to one source. It was unclear which games MLB would live stream on Facebook. A representative for Facebook declined to comment. MLB did not return a request for comment.
By partnering with Facebook, MLB would get access to a young audience at a massive scale, consultants said.
The size of Facebook’s reach was a big reason Univision Communications Inc [UVN.UL] decided to use Facebook Live to live stream Mexican soccer matches in English, said Tonia O’Connor, chief commercial officer and president of content distribution at Univision. Under that deal, Facebook will live stream 46 matches by Mexican soccer league Liga MX in 2017. Terms were not disclosed.
Over the past few months, Facebook has live streamed global basketball and soccer matches and table tennis.
While Facebook is aggressively pursuing sports deals, Twitter has been established a coveted relationship with the National Football League. But Facebook does not need the NFL to claim victory in live sports, Berke said.
“The scope of their audience is worldwide,” Berke said. “They have a range of audiences and sports loyalties they can appeal to.”
(Additional reporting by Tim Baysinger; Editing by Anna Driver and Jeffrey Benkoe)