March 13, 2017 Nick Cicero

How Major Sports Leagues are using Facebook Live

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Facebook Live presents major sports leagues with a unique opportunity to broadcast events to digital audiences and create fan experiences that come from the leagues directly, and not through any media partner.

Having seen some great use of live over the past few months, we decided to pull together some of our favorite examples of sports leagues making the most of the platform:

NASCAR*

NASCAR is revving up its social video engine for the 2017 season with a big push into Snapchat, Instagram and of course, Facebook Live.

The league’s goal in live is to bring fans closer to the race than ever before, and have wasted no time in taking an episodic approach to their content. For the Daytona 500, they started the season with four two-hour Facebook Live shows at Media Day with more than 40 drivers appearing as guests.

UFC*

The UFC is no stranger to streaming live with their active PPV and TV schedule and since the league is constantly producing broadcast-ready content across various partners, they’ve taken to Facebook live with much success.

What’s so unique about the UFC is the massively engaged live audience they have, take for example, their big UFC 205 PPV, the first in New York City. The UFC streamed a high-quality feed of their weigh-ins to Facebook Live. The 50-minute stream generated more than 1M live views and had an average of 20 engagements per second with an AMA of 60K as measured by Delmondo’s Facebook Video Analytics.

NBA

In January, the NBA announced it would stream its very first live game – between the Sacramento Kings and the Golden State Warriors – on Facebook Live through a brand-new product called Mobile View. This is a paid service available only to NBA League Pass subscribers, and it provides live, close-up footage of NBA games that is designed for smaller screens. Though the game was only streamed to users in India, it was received well. The NBA also streamed nine exhibition games in the weeks leading up to the 2016 Summer Olympics.

Most recently, the NBA used Facebook Live to celebrate the four year anniversary of Steph Curry’s 1st 50-point game at MSG by streaming his top play from every game so far this season

MLB

12:25 Live with Alexa: This is how we baseball.Jack Morris talks Team USA and #WBC2017 action. Team Israel is impressing with its 2-0 start, and members Ryan Lavarnway and Josh Zeid take a food tour in Korea. Plus, Arizona Diamondbacks news from Steve Gilbert.

Posted by MLB on Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Major League Baseball was one of the first US sports to offer live streams on Facebook. In fact, it can be said that this sports brand was the pioneer of streaming. It started by streaming training games during the pre-season in 2011, but now users can find a variety of videos on Facebook, including practices, training games, interviews with players, coaches, and team owners, and much more. Last week it was reported that the MLB is now in talks with Facebook to broadcast a number of full-length games directly on the site for the 2017 season.

A10

The Atlantic 10 conference garners the attention of hundreds of thousands of viewers. During the 2016-2017 season, the A10 controlled some 237 basketball games. 94 of them went to contracts with television providers like ESPN, CBS, ASN, and NBC, but that still left more than 100 games to broadcast. The A10 decided to give 15 of those games to Facebook Live. Per Associate Commissioner Mike Vest, broadening the number of screens viewers can choose from also broadens viewership, which makes Facebook Live a viable option. The A10 isn’t new to streaming, and many of the 15 games found on Facebook Live are also broadcast on major networks.

MLS

This season Major League Soccer has partnered with Facebook and Univision to stream 22 live soccer matches alongside interactive features. This marks one of the most intricate live streaming partnerships between a major sports league and a social platform, after Twitter’s deal with the NFL for Thursday Night Football.

 

Sports brands are making the most out of Facebook Live with the understanding that gaining viewership and expanding their audience is important to their very survival. By making some of their games accessible from just about anywhere there’s an internet connection, they expect to generate more viewership than ever before.

Expect to see more platforms like Facebook and Twitter competing for TV contracts just as the major networks do, and with the introduction of more mid-roll, branded content and other monetization options for leagues, ad dollars will follow.

*Delmondo Customers

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