Facebook failed to win the streaming rights for the Indian Premier League (IPL). Facebook offered $600 million for the five-year IPL streaming rights, while Rupert Murdoch’s Star India paid $2.6 billion to acquire the package, which contains both broadcast and streaming rights for Indian cricket matches.
A missed chance for IPL streaming rights
Apart from Star, Sony was also in the bidding race, making things challenging for Facebook. Amazon, Twitter and Yahoo were also expected to participate in the bidding for the IPL streaming rights. They even purchased the required auction document, but they backed out later, notes Gadgets 360.
So far, Facebook has been the only tech giant that’s been lagging versus Twitter and Amazon, which already have their hands filled with the streaming rights for some of the biggest live sports content. However, the kind of money that the social networking giant was willing to shell out reveals how serious Facebook is about live streaming.
Jan Dawson, chief analyst at Jackdaw Research, told Gadgets 360, “It certainly seems like the biggest single bet Facebook has made on video content, which reflects how hard it is to find really popular new sports content out there.”
Further, Dawson said that in the United States, very few content rights for popular live sports are available before 2021. Therefore, if Facebook is looking to get some sports content, it has to look somewhere else. Dawson also feels that given the popularity of cricket in India and other countries, trying for the IPL streaming rights was the right thing to do.
Holger Mueller, principal analyst and vice president of Constellation Research, said that live sports events are detrimental to increasing social media highlights and traffic. Since sports are a big part of many people’s lives, it makes sense for social media companies such as Facebook to try to win the rights to such content, notes siliconANGLE.
“The cricket move is actually a smart one from a global perspective, as one of the traditionally underrepresented sports in TV distribution,” Mueller said.
Facebook’s growing appetite for streaming rights
Facebook has been in action throughout this year, trying to acquire the streaming rights to different leagues and games. Just a few days ago, the company acquired the rights to stream 15 college football games in the upcoming season. The partnership with digital sports platform Stadium allows Facebook to exclusively live-stream nine Conference USA games and six Mountain West conference games.
Before this, the company entered into an agreement with Major League Soccer to live-stream about 22 live major league soccer matches. Further, under the partnership, MLS will also produce over 40 Matchday Live episodes to offer additional highlights and analysis. In February, Facebook live-streamed all 46 football matches of the Mexican football league Liga MX’s 2017 season. The matches also included the playoffs.
Facebook could be using India as a test bed for its live-streaming ambitions. Earlier, Facebook live-streamed a regular session NBA match between the Golden State Warriors and the Sacramento Kings exclusively for India.
In pre-market trading today, Facebook shares were in the red. Year to date, the stock is up almost 50%, while in the last year, it is up almost 36%.