Facebook is bringing live football to its redesigned video tab this fall — just not the NFL games that it had originally hoped for.
Facebook announced a deal on Wednesday with Stadium, the 24/7 digital sports broadcaster, to stream 15 college football games exclusively on the platform. Stadium owns the rights to the games, and will produce them specifically for the social network, meaning they won't air on TV or anywhere else online.
Facebook has been trying to collect sports rights and livestreams for the past year, but most of what it's secured has been either niche or not exclusive to Facebook.
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The company has streamed some NBA and MLB regular season games, but those were available in other places. It also recently inked its most high-profile deal, an agreement with Fox Sports to stream some Champions League soccer matches, arguably the top soccer tournament worldwide outside of the World Cup. But those streams are also not exclusive.
The good news about Wednesday's deal is that Facebook is getting exclusive video of a sport people actually want to watch: College football.
The bad news is that unlike the NFL games Facebook made a run at earlier this year, the games it's getting won't be very high-profile.
Facebook will stream nine Conference USA games and six Mountain West games, which means you'll be able to watch schools like Idaho State, Utah State and North Texas. Unless you're an alum from one of the schools playing, or you like to bet on football, you probably won't have much incentive to watch. (Although, Wyoming will play twice on Facebook, and Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen could be a top-five NFL draft pick next year.)
Still, the deal gives Facebook more live sports to put inside its redesigned video tab, which it unveiled earlier this month. The premise of the tab is to get more professionally produced videos and shows onto Facebook so that users have a good reason to treat the social network as a video destination akin to YouTube or TV. Facebook hopes to ultimately sell ads against those higher-quality videos.
Facebook declined to share financial details about its arrangement with Stadium, but a spokesperson did say the company is "investing in the content," which makes sense given Stadium owns the rights and is producing the games. Facebook won't sell ads or commercials against these games "at the outset," the spokesperson added.
Here's a look at the schedule of games, all of which will stream globally.
- Saturday, Sept. 2: Miami (OH) at Marshall, 6:30 pm ET
- Saturday, Sept. 2: UC Davis at San Diego State, 8:30 pm ET
- Thursday, Sept. 7: Idaho State at Utah State, 8:00 pm ET
- Saturday, Sept. 9: New Mexico State at New Mexico, 8:00 pm ET
- Saturday, Sept. 23: FIU at Rice, 7:30 pm ET
- Saturday, Sept. 23: Utah State at San Jose State, 7:30 pm ET
- Saturday, Sept. 30: Texas State at Wyoming, 4:00 pm ET
- Saturday, Oct. 7: Southern Miss at UTSA, 7:00 pm ET
- Saturday, Oct. 14: Wyoming at Utah State, 4:30 pm ET
- Saturday, Oct. 21: Rice at UTSA, 7:00 pm ET
- Saturday, Oct. 28: FIU at Marshall, 2:30 pm ET
- Saturday, Nov. 4: North Texas at Louisiana Tech, 3:30 pm ET
- Saturday, Nov. 11: Southern Miss at Rice, 3:30 pm ET
- Saturday, Nov. 18: Marshall at UTSA, 7:00 pm ET
- Saturday, Nov. 25: FAU at Charlotte, 2:00 pm ET
—By Kurt Wagner, Recode.net.
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