Facebook and the NFL this morning announced a new multi-year programming deal that will see the sports organization distributing official NFL video, including game recaps and official highlights, to the social network. According to the NFL, the videos and recaps will be from all 256 regular season games, plus the playoffs and the Super Bowl, and will be made available to Facebook users worldwide.
Alongside the footage from the games themselves, the NFL's media division will also distribute content from its production arm NFL Films on Facebook's newly launched Watch platform. Here, users in the U.S. will be able to watch "NFL Turning Point," "Sound FX" and "NFL Game Recaps" every week.
However, that limitation is due to Facebook Watch being a U.S.-only feature at this time. International users will be able to view the same programming on the Show pages on Facebook, and can view the highlights by following the NFL or any of its 32 Clubs on Facebook, says the NFL.
“We have millions of fans on Facebook, and they continue to demonstrate an incredible appetite for NFL content,” said Hans Schroeder, Chief Operating Officer of NFL Media, in a statement. “We’re excited to bring a compelling set of highlights and shows from the NFL and our Clubs to our fans on Facebook.”
The deal comes at a time when the NFL has been expanding its reach across social media. Last season, the NFL had a $10 million deal with Twitter to live stream Thursday Night Football, for example. But Twitter lost the deal to Amazon this year which paid $50 million for the games that are being made available for free to Amazon Prime members.
Twitter instead this year did a deal with the NFL for a new, 30-minute live streamed show called #NFLBlitz and other live sports programming, like breaking news, highlights, fantasy projections, pre-game updates, key storylines, team power rankings, and more.
This is not Facebook's first deal to bring streaming sports to its social network.
In May, the company announced plans to live stream Major League Soccer matches; in June, it said it would live stream Champions League Soccer via a deal with Fox; and in August, it partnered with sports network Stadium to stream live college football games.
While Facebook's NFL agreement won't deliver live games to fans, it is indicative of the importance of sports programming in general to boosting video views and drawing in new users to Facebook's Watch video platform.
Sports is a key category in Facebook Watch, which launched with a number of programs in this area, including Golden State Warriors’ “Championship Rewind," Univision Deportes’ “Liga MX" (live LigaMX soccer matches), and NBA’s “WNBA All-Access," in addition to the MLB games and a live show called "12:25 Live."