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Report: Facebook wants to spend a ‘few billion dollars’ for streaming sports rights

  • Facebook wants to hire an exec to negotiate sports rights deals.
  • Sources say whoever gets the job will have a budget of a "few billion dollars" to spend on global rights deal.
  • In the context of sports rights deals, a few billion dollars may be less than you think.
Founder and CEO of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg
Photo by Bloomberg
Founder and CEO of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg

Thing you knew but should keep thinking about anyway: The big tech companies are very interested in streaming live sports to you.

Today's reminder comes from Facebook, which wants to hire an exec to negotiate sports rights deals. The company has been interviewing candidates for a while, says Sports Business Journal's John Ourand.

More interesting: Ourand's sources say whoever gets the job will have a budget of a "few billion dollars" to spend on global rights deal. No comment from Facebook comms on his story, but John is a very good reporter, so let's assume the number is correct until we hear otherwise.

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Here is the thing about a "few billion dollars": It is a lot of money! But it's crucial to know what period of time that covers. And, in the context of sports rights deals, it may be less than you think.

In 2014, for instance, DirecTV agreed to pay the NFL a reported $1.5 billion a year for the rights to its "Sunday Ticket" ticket package. (That deal is up in 2022, by the way.) ESPN and Turner are paying the NBA a reported $2.66 billion a year for their current deal.

So: Unless the value of TV sports rights deals dramatically craters in the near future, Facebook won't be buying any exclusive rights to any big-ticket sports anytime soon.

On the other hand, a "few billion dollars" could definitely go a long way when it comes to streaming-only deals, sold alongside traditional TV deals. That's what the NFL has been doing with its Thursday night games for the last couple years: Last year, it sold the digital rights to Twitter for about $10 million; this year Amazon got them for about $50 million.

And Facebook itself just bid $600 million — $120 million a year for five years — to stream cricket matches in India. It didn't get the deal — Star paid $2.6 billion for a combined TV-digital deal — but it was a good sign that Facebook is willing to spend significant money for sports. And now we have another.

By Peter Kafka, Recode.net.

CNBC's parent NBCUniversal is an investor in Recode's parent Vox, and the companies have a content-sharing arrangement.

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