Facebook’s Reimagined Sports Strategy

    • Facebook is shifting to a pay-per-view model in its sports broadcasting, seeking to create a platform for smaller markets.
    • The company initially made a more traditional play on major sports broadcasting rights, but has since pulled back.

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Facebook made billions of dollars by outsourcing content production to its users. It may take the same approach to sports broadcasting.

The social media giant is building out its pay-per-view broadcasting platform, launched last August, with a focus on allowing high schools, colleges, and smaller leagues to distribute and profit from their content.

Facebook reportedly has paid online events available in 44 markets globally. In its most recent earnings report, it reported 2.85 billion monthly active users and 1.8 billion daily active users.

The social platform is betting that within its user base is an audience willing to pay for one-off sporting events.

  • Major Arena Soccer League partnered with Facebook in January to broadcast games for $7.99 a piece or $74.99 for the season.
  • In March, the site drew 18,300 fans, each paying $2.99, to watch the Challenge Miami Triathlon.
  • That same month, Facebook partnered with LiveXLive on a series of PPV events, including boxing matches between YouTube and TikTok stars.

Facebook initially took a more traditional approach to sports — purchasing broadcast rights to sports leagues with large audiences such as LaLiga and MLB — but scaled back those ambitions at the start of 2020.

Paid events could lead to growth in the company’s non-advertising revenue, which totaled $732 million in Q1, just 2.8% of Facebook’s $26.2 billion total revenue for the quarter.