Facebook will soon launch a platform for original video content, called Watch, and speculation has already begun that it could soon become home to Premier League football.
The media giant has already announced that it wants it Watch platform to feature “a wide range of shows, from reality to comedy to live sports”, and with the current contract for the Premier League’s broadcast rights set to finish at the end of the 2018/19 season, Facebook could be set to muscle in on Sky and BT Sport’s current deal.
“This move is far more than just the creation of a new tab on Facebook. This is effectively the launch of Facebook TV and I think we can count on this being the first step toward the social media giant broadcasting its own original content,” said Dror Ginzberg, co-founder & CEO of Wochit.
“A key approach will also be to broadcast live sports events too. Previously, sports, like the Mexican football league, had been broadcast on Facebook Live, but the new Watch tab is the natural home for this now. We may see Facebook finally become a player in the race to broadcast the Premier League when the rights are up for auction next year.”
Amongst the documentary series and reality shows set to be available upon Watch’s launch, the platform will also broadcast one Major League Baseball (MLB) game per week.
A similar arrangement could see Premier League football screened on Facebook. Although, any plans to broadcastEngland’s top division wouldn’t come cheap. The current contract is worth a staggering £5.136bn, which gives Sky access to 126 matches, while BT gets to show 42 games per season on its sports channels.
“We’re thrilled to work with MLB to enable baseball fans on Facebook to watch live games and connect with friends and fellow fans around the action, no matter where they live in the U.S., and are excited to help the league continue to reach new audiences on our platform,” said Dan Reed, Facebook’s head of global sports partnerships, when Facebook and the MLB’s partnership was announced in March.
Facebook says it plans to roll out access to Watch to a small group of US users first before allowing access to the rest of the US and international audiences.
The media company imagines that its Watch platform will have content from both professional creators and from regular people within its own community.
To help inspire creators, Facebook has agreed to fund some shows that are examples of community-oriented and episodic video series.
One such example is, Returning the Favor, which is a series hosted by Mike Rowe where he finds people doing something extraordinary for their community, tells the world about it, and in turn does something extraordinary for them. Candidates are nominated by Mike’s fans on Facebook.