Facebook in talks with NFL about livestreaming football games

Yahoo‘s live stream of a regular-season NFL game last year—the first such stream for the pro football league—was mostly a success, with more than 33 million people tuning into the Internet-only broadcast. The league called it the most livestreamed sporting event in U.S. history.

Not surprisingly, the NFL is looking to livestream more games—and now Facebook wants to be involved.

Dan Rose, Facebook’s vice president of partnerships, told Variety that the company has talked to the NFL about buying the rights to livestream games. Amazon and Verizon are also reportedly bidding for livestreaming rights.

“We’re talking to a lot of folks about live ,” said Rose, who also mentioned that he’d like to continue bringing in actors, musicians, and other athletes to promote Facebook Live Video. “There are a ton of types of content that can fit under this format. … There’s a lot of interesting things we can do with sports.”

Rose said Facebook envisioned behind-the-scenes pre- and post-game locker-room content on NFL game days, though it’s difficult to envision players accepting that kind of intrusion on what they consider their sacred space before games.

“I’m not going to rule anything out. We’ll try a lot of different ideas,” Rose said. “There are a lot of different cuts you can imagine.”

Facebook Live debuted last year as the social-media giant’s response to Twitter-owned Periscope. At first only celebrities could use it, but it later expanded to everyone else.

Winning the rights to livestream NFL games would be a big coup for Facebook, but it will cost a substantial amount of money, depending on how many games the league allows to be livestreamed.

Yahoo paid $20 million for the rights to livestream one game—a contest between the Jaguars and Bills, which happened to be two of the least appealing teams in the league.

CBS and NBC will pay about $450 million combined per year for the rights to broadcast Thursday Night Football for the next two seasons, but the livestreaming rights for those mid-week games will be sold separately.

For those worried about Facebook starting some kind of subscription service, Rose didn’t exactly ease their fears. “Rose would not rule out subscriptions,” Variety reported, “and said there could be several ways to make money from live-streaming video.”

When the Daily Dot asked the NFL about a potential Facebook partnership, the league pointed to a recent statement in which it said, “The NFL is in active discussions with prospective digital partners for OTT streaming rights to Thursday Night Football. A deal announcement is expected in the near future.”

H/T Business Insider | Illustratration via Max Fleishman

Josh Katzowitz

Josh Katzowitz

Josh Katzowitz is a staff writer at the Daily Dot specializing in YouTube and boxing. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and Los Angeles Times. A longtime sports writer, he's covered the NFL for CBSSports.com and boxing for Forbes. His work has been noted twice in the Best American Sports Writing book series.