Major League Baseball (MLB) and Facebook have announced that during the 2017 season, at least 20 MLB games will be streamed live of Fridays on the social media site. This will only be available for users in the United States, and the move will expand access to games beyond their normal local market.
According to Business Insider, Facebook is investing in live video aggressively, and is looking to distance themselves from negative live feeds that have recently popped up on the site. While the terms between the social media giant and MLB are not known at this time, and the actual games have yet to be announced, the deal follows an agreement to stream some Spanish and Mexican soccer league games live.
This is not the first time the social media network has teamed up with MLB. In 2011, the league live-streamed a few spring training games, but at that time, MLB embedded their video player into their Facebook page. Now, this will be a true Zuckerberg Live-Stream event, and be promoted on the sites new Video tab.
The social media giant in blue is not alone in live streaming sports. Twitter is also streaming some MLB games, as well as NHL and National Lacrosse League games. Amazon has the rights to stream 2017 NFL Thursday night games.
Some people are wondering why the live-stream move is taking place. Recently ESPN announced the layoffs of hundreds of on-ail personalities and a shake up to their formatting. This was done because viewership is falling. It is not because people do not want to watch the sports network, the it appears this is the era of cord cutting, and when the consumer gives up cable or satellite television for streaming sources like Hulu, Amazon Video, and Netflix at a fraction of their cable bill, they lose out on channels like ESPN or live sports not on broadcast television.
While there is the possibility to get full seasons through services like NBA League Pass, MLB TV or other streaming options, but at a hefty cost. Right now, MLB.TV for a single team is $87.49 a year, or the premium setup that allows viewing of multiple games for $112.99 a year. Kind of defeats the cable cutting idea, and that is where the Facebook, Twitter, and Amazon streaming can come in.
While 20 games streamed live on Fridays may not seem like a lot, it is a start. With the MLB.TV option, if viewers are following the team from their local market, home games are blacked out. However, it does not appear that these Friday games on the social media site will be blacked out.
Streaming is not something new. World Wrestling Entertainment took a big chance from charging viewers up to $50 for each pay-per-view, and $20 for video tapes, to a $9.99 subscription that includes access to all the pay-per-views, extras, original programing, and classic matches. It took off and for less than $120 a year, subscribers save hundreds of dollars on the pay-per-view titles.
What do you think about Facebook live-streaming as many as 20 MLB games this season? What do you think about live-streaming versus television coverage versus actually going to the game live? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Commentary by Cletus Dillwood
Photo Courtesy MLB.TV