Filed under moves that are potentially groundbreaking with big implications but with quite small numbers, Facebook has signed an exclusive deal with the Major League Baseball to stream 25 afternoon games, according to Bloomberg. First Pitch will showcase the YouTube TV brand during the first pitches of games on MLB Network and MLB.tv, and will be amplified on the MLB.com and MLB social channels.
The games will be produced by the MLB Network for Facebook Watch, with interactive and social elements that differentiate them from live streaming. The partnership marks the league's first digital-only national broadcasts. Contests will be distributed exclusively on Facebook Watch in the United States via the MLB Live show Page.
While the league didn't specify exact details, it did say that MLB Network and Facebook will look to "debut a variety of presentation and interactivity innovations" on the productions in this package.
All games in the Facebook deal will be played on weekday afternoons, with a new game on the social network each week.
Wednesday, April 11: Milwaukee Brewers vs. St. Louis Cardinals, 1:15 p.m.
The Mets will share the first Facebook Watch-aired Major League Baseball game with the Phillies on April 4. YouTube TV branding will appear across MLB's digital properties and official social media accounts, as well as in stadiums. Last year, Facebook streamed 20 Major League Baseball games on its platform, but didn't have any exclusivity on those games.
But Facebook isn't the only tech company with eyes on streaming live sporting events.
The deal is a bit reminiscent of the one Twitter signed for Thursday Night Football back in 2016 to stream games that are outside of the range of primetime football (usually reserved for Sundays and Monday Night Football).
Following is the complete schedule for April (subject to change; all times are Eastern). Either way, the new era of broadcasting sports took a big step with this announcement. Soshnick noted the games will primarily be on Wednesdays, starting with the April 4 contest between the New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies.