On April 4, the Phillies will face the Mets at Citi Field in the final game of a three-game divisional series. If you are hoping to watch the game, you’d better have a Facebook account.
On Friday, MLB announced a new deal with Facebook that will allow the social media behemoth to air 25 baseball games this season, starting with the Phillies’ match-up with the Mets. The games will air weekly on Facebook Watch in the United States and most global markets, marking MLB’s first foray into digital-only national broadcasts. Viewers will be able to watch on their phones, tablets, laptops and other web-connected devices, including televisions at home.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
The partnership marks the first time a major U.S. sports league has ceded exclusive broadcast rights to Facebook, which has made a push in recent years to acquire sports content to stream on its platform. In January, Facebook hired Peter Hutton, the former CEO of Discovery-owned TV network Eurosport, to lead the social media company’s push for rights to stream live sports worldwide.
So far, MLB has announced which games will appear exclusively on Facebook only through April. The schedule includes a second Phillies game on April 26, when the Arizona Diamondbacks visit Citizens Bank Park. The league says each additional monthly broadcast schedule will be announced during the season.
The league said the games, which will be produced by the MLB Network specifically for Facebook Watch, will debut “a variety of presentation and interactivity innovations,” but did not specify what they would be. It’s also unclear who will handle broadcast duties for the weekly games.
Here are the games in April that will appear exclusively on Facebook:
- Wednesday, April 4: Phillies vs. Mets, 1:10 p.m.
- Wednesday, April 11: Milwaukee Brewers vs. St. Louis Cardinals, 1:15 p.m.
- Wednesday, April 18: Kansas City Royals vs. Toronto Blue Jays, 4:07 p.m.
- Thursday, April 26: Diamondbacks vs. Phillies, 1:05 p.m.
It’s not the first time MLB has partnered with the social media giant. Last season, the league streamed simulcasts of 20 Friday night games on Facebook. But this deal certainly pushes things forward by offering the social media platform, which as of the fourth quarter of 2017 had 2.2 billion active users, exclusive rights to air games.
“This partnership with Facebook reflects the ongoing commitment of Major League Baseball and our clubs to connect with people around the world,” said Tony Petitti, deputy commissioner of business and media for Major League Baseball. “It is a major creative step forward in serving our diverse, passionate community of fans, who will enjoy a uniquely interactive experience watching our games on Facebook each week.”