Broadcasters and social networks race to secure sports live streaming rights

Broadcasters and social networks race to secure sports live streaming rights

Recently, BBC extended its deal with the Masters tournament, one of golf’s biggest events. The network’s coverage of the April event will span television as well as digital and radio. This extension is a big victory for broadcasters, as the battle versus social media sites wishing to get into the streaming game heats up.

“We’re extremely proud of our partnership with the Masters Tournament, and this new deal highlights our longstanding commitment to bringing world-class golf to the widest possible audience on free-to-air TV,” said Barbara Slater, director of BBC Sport.

Despite BBC’s deal, it is clear that social competitors are gaining on broadcasters in the cord-cutting generation. Sports deals for social media sites can be difficult to get since many leagues are locked into contracts with broadcasters that restrain leagues making their content available to updated platforms. Yet a couple popular social sites have locked up deals recently.

Facebook gets another live-streaming sport deal

Arguably the most popular social networking site in the world, Facebook continues to lead social media in sports live-streaming. Recently, they agreed to a deal with Major League Soccer that will include 22 MLS matches streamed on Facebook Live.

The live streams will be available for both desktop and mobile and will include Facebook-specific commentators, interactive graphics, and even polling features during the match.

This isn’t the first case of Facebook securing streaming deals with leagues. In the past, Facebook has streamed USA Basketball Men’s and Women’s National Team exhibition games, and soccer matches from other leagues. Currently, they are in talks with Major League Baseball to stream content.

Twitter inks two-year deal with NLL

Facebook is considered the social networking leader in sports streaming, but Twitter remains hot on their rivals’ trail. Earlier this month, Twitter finalised a two-year deal with the National Lacrosse League that gives the social media site exclusive access to live-streaming select regular season contests and Champion’s Cup games.

The games will be available for free to the United States and Canada and will begin right away with a matchup between the Toronto Rock and the Colorado Mammoth on March 17

“The future of the sports viewing experience is digital, and this partnership will not only elevate the fan experience by making the game more accessible to audiences but enable simultaneous real-time conversations and connections with other fans on the same platform,” NLL commissioner Nick Sakiewicz said.

Over the past few years, Twitter has made deals with Wimbledon, pro boxing, and the rapidly-growing eSports. Most notably, they began streaming the NFL’s Thursday night games, with mixed reviews.

Fox Sports, BT Sport make deals of their own

Of course, popular broadcasters are doing their best to keep up by securing streaming rights of their own. Fox Sports and Turner Broadcasting teamed up this week to gain exclusive rights to the Primera División, the top football league in Argentina. It’s a five-year deal worth a reported $206 million per year.

Likewise, BT Sport locked up exclusive rights to stream the Champions League and the Europa League until 2021. The deal extends their current deal three years and keeps their rival, Sky Sports, out of the picture.

According to UEFA marketing director Guy Laurent Epstein, one of the reasons UEFA was eager to extend the deal was BT Sport’s dedication to reaching fans through social media like Twitter and Facebook.

“BT have delivered strong audiences in the UK and we are excited about their future plans for the use of social media which will engage a growing fan base that consumes sport in different ways,” he said.