Facebook’s programming deal with Fox Sports sheds a light on the platform’s sports strategy
Just a couple of weeks after ESPN agreed to produce programming exclusively for Facebook Watch, Fox Sports signed a similar deal.
Fox Sports will provide shows focused on the NFL (“Fox Football Sunday” posts every Monday), gambling (“The People vs Colin Cowherd” will be produced three times a week) and highlights from Liga MX, Big East basketball, NASCAR, Premier Boxing Champions and the Professional Bowlers Association.
“You can also connect the tissue with the clips deals that we are doing with all the leagues as well,” said Rob Shaw, head of Facebook league and media sports partnerships. “The idea is to make Watch a destination for sports fans. We definitely want to continue this type of pattern of working closely with all the big broadcasters and all the leagues.”
Facebook is talking with other sports media companies about similar deals. It would not be surprising to soon see similar announcements with, say, NBC, CBS or Turner Sports.
The ESPN and Fox Sports deals position Facebook as a partner, rather than a competitor, to traditional media companies. TV networks view social media networks as areas where they can market their programming to younger consumers who do not watch linear television as much as their parents.
Fox Sports, for example, logged more than 200 million views on Facebook in September. That marked a record high for Fox Sports, which has eclipsed the 200 million-view mark for three consecutive months.
“This is an opportunity for them to reach new fans and new platforms,” Shaw said. “They see it as an incremental business. We’re not asking for favors. We’re trying to prove to them that this is actually good for their long-term business.”
For Facebook, these types of deals bring broadcast-quality programming and well-known personalities as it continues to grow Facebook Watch.
“We really want to make Watch a destination where people are going to be able to engage and view and consume, and these deals do all of that,” Shaw said. “It is coming on the heels of our NFL clips renewal, which means now when people come to watch, you have the clips. But you also have shoulder programming. You have a group to discuss and interact with the shows. There’s a full environment for you to participate in and to consume in, which is really what we’re trying to do.”
The Fox programming, which already is on the service, will stream “Fox Football Sunday” every Monday where Terry Bradshaw, Howie Long, Michael Strahan, Tony Gonzalez and Curt Menefee answer questions from Facebook users. Menefee also will host a highlights show, “Fox Football Update,” every Sunday night during NFL season.
Colin Cowherd and Jason McIntyre will tell Facebook users what they think of their proposed bets during “The People vs Colin Cowherd” three times per week.
Fox Deportes’ Raoul “Pollo” Ortiz and Ricardo Munguia will host a highlights and debate show called “Fox Liga MX” once a week.