Facebook Inks 25-Game Exclusive Streaming Deal With MLB

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Games will begin streaming weekly on the social network starting April 4.

Facebook and MLB are ready to play ball.

The social network has struck a deal with the league to exclusively stream 25 baseball games in the U.S. during the 2018 regular season.

The pact marks the first time that Facebook will exclusively stream competitions from one of the major U.S. sports leagues. Last year, Facebook streamed 20 non-exclusive MLB games. 

"This partnership with Facebook reflects the ongoing commitment of Major League Baseball and our clubs to connect with people around the world," said Tony Petitti, deputy commissioner of business and media for MLB. "It is a major creative step forward in serving our diverse, passionate community of fans who will enjoy a uniquely interactive experience watching our games on Facebook each week."

All games in the Facebook deal will be played on weekday afternoons, with a new game on the social network each week. Games will begin streaming on the platform on April 4, with a matchup between the Philadelphia Phillies and the New York Mets. 

They will be accessible via the MLB Live show page, which will feature additional content such as highlight packages and team-specific recaps.

The broadcasts will be produced by MLB Network for Facebook, but will include social features that are specific to the platform. 

While the games will be available globally, they will not be exclusive outside the United States. 

Facebook has loaded up on live sports content over the last year as a way to drive more video viewers to its platform. In addition to its previous MLB deal, the social network has also struck deals to stream Mexican soccer and college basketball. The live sports matches are a way to draw audiences to Facebook's new Watch video tab, where it also offers shortform shows from producing partners and Facebook-funded midform series. 

"We're excited to extend our partnership with Major League Baseball to make Facebook Watch a home for exclusive, live games every week this season," said Facebook head of global sports partnerships Dan Reed. "Community and conversation are central to both baseball and Facebook, and MLB Network's innovative broadcasts will bring these interactive and social elements of the game to life to fans around the world in new ways on our platform."