Facebook is ready to show its muscle in live-streaming, but today it’ll have another notch placed in the loss column. The social network, which behaves more like a media company these days, failed to secure streaming rights to the India Premier League. Facebook joined more than ten bidders vying for a mixture of broadcast and streaming rights to place on their respective platforms.
The deal Facebook offered to the league was $610 million for five years. 21st Century Fox’s Star India ended up winning the IPL’s streaming rights for $2.55 billion in a package that also includes traditional broadcast rights.
— IndianPremierLeague (@IPL) September 5, 2017
Before you dismiss the decision to bid on cricket and label it as a bad idea, recognize Facebook’s user base. A large portion of the people on Facebook are located in India, and even people outside of the country watch the sport. Bringing the IPL to Facebook would’ve increased engagement on a platform that’s been investing heavily in live programming recently. A single cricket tournament can draw hundreds of millions of viewers in just a couple of days.
And it’s not like the company went into the bidding process completely blind. Facebook has plenty of experience in live-streaming events around the world. You can already stream Major League Baseball games, Major League Soccer matches, college football games, UEFA Champions League matches, and more for free.
Others in the technology space didn’t show up to bid alongside Facebook. Google, Twitter, and Amazon were all absent; however, they’re still searching for additional live content. After a year with Twitter, the National Football League will move its Thursday Night Football package to Amazon. Google is seeking a key piece, and the next opportunity could be coming soon. Verizon’s deal to stream every NFL game on mobile devices expires at the end of this season. When the league starts shopping around those streaming rights, expect every company to engage in a bidding war.
What Facebook’s participation in the bidding for streaming rights to the IPL indicates is that international properties are valued in addition to domestic properties. Because live programming brings eyes to a screen, technology and media companies will pay almost anything.