Facebook to stream Major League Soccer games

Facebook is teaming up with another pro sports league — Major League Soccer — in move that further expands live video programming on the social network.

A deal with Major League Soccer and Univision will bring live MLS games to Facebook starting next week. At least 22 games are scheduled to be streamed. The first, matching the Chicago Fire and Atlanta United, will be streamed Saturday, March 18, at 4 p.m. ET on the Univision Deportes’ Facebook page. MLS also plans more than 40 “Matchday Live” highlights and analysis shows that will stream on the MLS Facebook page.

The matches will be broadcast in English and available in the U.S. only, while the live shows will be available globally, Facebook said. The games, produced for watching on mobile devices, will include graphics, polls and questions for fans to participate in and interact with during the broadcasts.

"Even if they're not at the stadium, people can watch the game on Facebook with a great view of the action while interacting with a highly-engaged community of fans," said Dan Reed, Facebook's head of global sports partnerships, in a statement announcing the deal Friday.

Facebook is paying MLS and Univision, for the English-language rights to 2017 games, but financial terms were not disclosed, according to The Wall Street Journal, which first reported the arrangement.

Facebook and its social media rivals have looked to team up with sports leagues to boost audiences. Facebook is reportedly in talks with Major League Baseball to stream games this upcoming season, a deal in the works first reported by Reuters.

Twitter began streaming National Football League games last season and added National Hockey League games and PGA Tour coverage in recent weeks. It also has deals in the works for Major League Baseball games, too. Yahoo streamed its first NFL game in October 2015. And Amazon has reportedly shown interest in streaming live sports, too.

This is also the second soccer connection for Facebook and Univision. Last month, Facebook began live streaming games from the Mexican La Liga soccer league on the Univision Deportes Facebook Page and on Facebook’s Video tab.

The deal will help grow MLS's audience, which helps the league and Univision, said Juan Carlos Rodriguez, president of Univision Deportes, in a statement. More than 18 million English-language viewers have watched soccer on Univision.

USA TODAY


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