When launched in 2004 Facebook was a complex website with an easy goal, connecting you with your friends and loved ones digitally for free rather than racking up debt on phone bills, yet it seems Mark Zuckerberg is not happy with just settling for being arguably the best social media site.
Facebook has since become an essential tool to media and PR companies hoping to spread their message across the world with a range of advertising tools. And now it seems Facebook are angling to take over the sports broadcasting industry.
Recently they have acquired the rights to stream 20 live matches from the MLB (Major League Baseball) matches to US users, as well as buying the rights to broadcast football matches from Mexico and Spain, yet they could make their most audacious bid to date by bidding to stream live Premier League matches. But they face competition from the likes of Amazon and Google who also have an interest.
Amazon, of course have their own television streaming service with Amazon Prime and recently outbid Sky Sports by spending £50 million on claiming the rights to Tennis’ ATP World Tour, while Google can feasibly outspend Sky Sports, BT Sport and Amazon.
Amazon are reportedly looking into buying the English broadcasting rights for the Premier League, Google are interested in acquiring the global packages and streaming the games for everyone on YouTube. This would be unprecedented, as this would mark the first time in the Premier League’s history that live games would be accessible to everyone in the UK, free of charge, that is of course if they don’t put them behind a paywall.
Over the past 25 years Sky Sports has been the place to watch live Premier League football, but have recently lost some of their power in this market with BT, with the BBC covering highlights of weekend matches on Match of the Day.
The Premier League currently rakes in around £8.5 billion for their television rights deals globally, but one can only assume that that figure would be dwarfed if Amazon, Google or even Facebook were to enter the bidding war.
But, the question is why would any of these highly successful companies who are competing against each other to become the first $1 trillion company want to spend billions on streaming the Premier League?
It is understood that the Premier League are ready to negotiate with all potential buyers and are looking to do a deal with multiple companies in order to make the most revenue, Premier League chiefs have always generated higher sums of money than it was ever believed possible through their broadcasting deals.
Sky Sports and BT Sport paid a combined £5 billion the last time the television deals were brokered and will have to question if they are willing to go even higher with their bid, knowing that Facebook, Amazon and Google can outspend them.
There are considerably more Facebook users than Sky Sports subscribers, so it’s likely Zuckerberg’s website has the platform to reach a wider audience, and are able to accurately measure how many people have watched and interacted with their videos. Not only can they accurately measure how many people have watched or interacted with their videos, but they can target specific users who they believe will be interested in the content they are promoting.
Yes, viewers of Sky Sports and BT Sport can tweet and interact with their respected Twitter and Facebook accounts, but they only have an approximate idea what percentage of their audience is actually doing so.
Meanwhile Facebook could in theory push out their content to fans of each individual sport and choose which gender and age groups they target with their audience profiling. With access to enormous amounts of data to every Facebook user, content can be adapted throughout the season to react to changes in viewing figures if they waiver through layered targeting based on your habits.