MLB is live on Facebook Watch: what does it mean for watching sport at work?
This week, the Major League Baseball (MLB) broadcasted its first live game of the season on Facebook Watch, with the clash between Philadelphia Phillies and New York Mets first up.
This broadcast has been executed as part of the partnership between the league and the social network with Facebook set to produce and broadcast one game a week to its global audience. A 25-game package to be distributed exclusively on Facebook’s video on-demand service, Facebook Watch, in the United States.
As part of the deal, the MLB has launched a dedicated show page, reachable on any device, to host games: MLB Live. The page is accessible globally, exluding around “only” 20 countries. Of course, a Facebook account is required to watch games: I hope you didn’t remove your profile in the last days if you’re a baseball fan.
With this new activation, the league hopes to increase its audience and to be more popular for young people. Indeed, the viewership of MLB is the oldest in US sport. The average age of baseball watchers is 53, compared with 47 for the NFL and 37 for the NBA.
Check out the social-first broadcast of 25 MLB games exclusively on Facebook Watch via MLB Live.
Posted by MLB Live on Tuesday, 3 April 2018
The first broadcast on Facebook on Wednesday should satisfy the league as the game between Phillies and Mets got 4.3M views. An impressive viewership for the MLB which had, in 2017, a net average of 996,000 viewers on ESPN during the regular-season. Even if both figures are not totally comparable, thanks to users engagement on Facebook (1.2M reactions and 68K comments for this broadcast), the MLB can only be more viral.
The ease and flexilibity offered by the sport league and Facebook could also allow people to watch baseball at work. As we have already seen with Somerset CCC broadcasting their live games during the midweek daytime, with all games on MLB Live scheduled for work hours in the US, those who are at their desk can use their computer to put the game on in their background and continue to work. A good target for the league to be visible during a quiet time, especially for sports which are calmer and don’t require your undivided attention for the entire duration.
It will be interesting in the next weeks to see if the MLB continues to keep a high viewership there. A user-friendly platform, like Facebook Watch or YouTube TV, can on one hand facilitate ease-of-access, offering flexility and a better visual experience to fans while, on another hand, giving the opportunity for leagues to reach a new audience and more fans. The MLB case with a 25-game package is maybe the beginning of more regular live programmings between leagues, clubs and on-demand video platforms.
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