Facebook is in discussions with Major League Baseball to retain live streaming rights to one game per week, according to a report this afternoon from Reuters. The deal, while far from finalized, would give Facebook a significant edge in the business of live events. These events, sports especially, are an area of increasing interest to the company as it invests heavily in video and tries to find new ways to get users to stick around and consume entertainment. Facebook declined to comment on any potential live streaming plans with the MLB.
Thanks to its inherent structure and speed, Twitter has thus far been a far superior platform for monitoring live events like sports and awards shows, as well as for letting people engage and digest information with ease. Twitter also struck a lucrative deal with the NFL last year to stream 10 Thursday Night Football games. So far, Twitter as a platform for live TV has been one a bright spot for the company, which has otherwise struggled in its attempts to sign up new users and grow its ad revenue.
If Facebook does secure the rights to stream MLB games, it could gain a significant edge over Twitter that could result in other sports organizations flocking to Facebook. Earlier this month, Facebook secured rights to 46 Liga MX soccer games from broadcaster Univsion, after a trial of sorts last year whereby 3.7 million Facebook users tuned into a charity match between English teams Manchester United and Everton.
While Twitter is used by a little more than 300 million people, Facebook is well on its way to achieving 2 billion monthly active users by the middle of the year. With that kind of audience, Facebook may prove to be the more logical destination for sports leagues and broadcasters to try and monetize live sports as consumers continue to ditch cable.