Facebook Says Play Ball in Exclusive Deal to Stream 25 MLB Games

The Mets will share the first Facebook Watch-aired MLB game with the Phillies on April 4

"This partnership with Facebook reflects the ongoing commitment of Major League Baseball and our Clubs to connect with people around the world", Tony Petitti, Deputy Commissioner of Business and Media for Major League Baseball, said in a statement Friday.

"Much like the migration of sports from broadcast to cable, you're reaching these milestones where the combination of the financial incentive and the audience allow you to make the next great leap", said Lee Berke, an industry consultant. Late last year, sources told Sports Business Journal that Facebook would spend "a few billion dollars" on sports streaming deals, and given that Amazon paid $50 million for Thursday night National Football League games a year ago, the MLB arrangement might be investing in a market the social network already had a foothold in.

In addition, YouTube TV will have a presence during the first pitches of games broadcast on its Major League Baseball properties, and the service will incorporate players in a variety of promotional campaigns.

Facebook boasts over 1.4 billion daily active users throughout the world, making it the biggest social network to ever exist. Soshnick noted the games will primarily be on Wednesdays, starting with the April 4 contest between the New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies. Viewers will be able to watch on smartphones, tablets, computers and other connected devices, including home TVs.

We Change the Clocks this Weekend; Here's How It Might Affect You
On Sunday, 2 a.m. will instantly turn to 3 a.m., the "spring forward" edition that costs an hour of sleep. This will mean evening daylight last longer while it will remain dark a little longer in the morning.

The broadcasts will be produced by MLB Network for Facebook but will include social features that are specific to the platform. Each of the 25 Facebook-exclusive games will be in the afternoon (typically 1PM or 4PM ET), so no prime-time yet, but they'll be produced by the Major League Baseball for a look and feel fans are familiar with.

While the games will be available globally, they will not be exclusive outside the United States. Major League Baseball will release the broadcast schedule a month at a time, to allow for more flexibility and the ability to stream games later in the season that may have more playoff implications. Facebook had bid the previous two years.

Updates with price information in second paragraph.

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