Another coup for Facebook as it buys up rights to Champions League games in Brazil

The speculation and innuendo around live-streaming giants knocking traditional broadcasters off their perch when it comes to snapping up rights to the world’s biggest sporting events is unending.

It is also becoming global.

This week, Brazilian media outlet UOL (via SportsPro) have reported that Facebook has won the race for free-to-air rights to UEFA Champions League games in the country, picking up matches that the traditional giant Globo would have had before them.

The social media platform is no stranger to a bid for global rights to live sport, of course. We’ve seen them broadcast live football before, amongst other sports, something feels significant about this.

Despite the fact that South American football has a proud heritage, the Champions League is still a big deal in Brazil: the Rio Carnival programme was changed so that it didn’t clash with Real Madrid’s win over Paris Saint-Germain in February, as Brazilian crowds didn’t want to miss Neymar’s biggest game of the season.

Moreover, this shows the worldwide nature of social media – especially compared to the increasingly parochial feel to TV channels.

Often, you get the feeling that live-streaming is something of a red herring when it comes to the rights landscape. Sure, when Amazon and co get involved it’s a serious threat to the established status quo, but that’s not simply because they offer streaming (because so does everyone else these days) – it’s because their offering is based on a completely different business model to the other broadcasters. Put simply, it’s not the live-streaming that makes Amazon seem like a threat, it’s the fact they’re such a big business outside of sport.

And that’s why, when the Brazilian media rights to the Champions League are making the news around the UK industry outlets, you know that what’s happening is part of a wider trend, the shockwaves of which will be felt elsewhere.

Facebook is a global entity and buying up some of the most prestigious sports rights on the planet – especially in football mad Brazil – is a big way to announce yourself as a player in the market. And after Amazon’s Premier League deal, DAZN’s increasing clout in the world of sports rights and even La Liga’s UK rights going to an online platform from next season.

Just like Facebook’s deal to bring the platform Champions League rights in Brazil, this is all part of a bigger storyline.

About author

Chris McMullan
Chris McMullan 660 posts

Chris is a sports journalist and editor of Digital Sport - follow him on Twitter @CJMcMullan_

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