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Thursday, January 23, 2020 8:09:06 PM

How Facebook Live is turning the social network into the sports broadcaster of the future By Tony Connelly April am From real-time conversations to live updates, Facebook has slowly made inroads into sports broadcasting over the years and now is set to quicken that push with a more pronounced live offering. That was given even further depth when Facebook Live launched late last year and made real-time broadcasting available to all users, accelerating its shift from just hosting user-generated content to actually becoming a media owner. It stands to reason then that sports broadcasters would be keen to tap into this potential and somehow yield this new social media opportunity as a tool to increase engagement with viewers in a way that would also benefit their televised content. The additional Wrestlemania 32 content shown on Facebook Live yesterday 3 April is testament to that demand, while reports that the online platform has withdrawn its bid to stream NFL games reinforce its measured approach to navigating the complex world of sports rights.

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Supporters of the program enjoyed the community-driven features Facebook brought to the table. Critics balked at having to create a Facebook account in order to see their favorite teams, wishing they could watch games on TV instead of screens full of reaction emojis.

MLB regarded the first-of-its-kind exclusive broadcast agreement as an experiment in which the league would test the waters of producing its own broadcast online, rather than just simulcasting a TV feed. As a result, the partnership could continue in The early-season broadcast of a Royals-Blue Jays game earned the most views — 7.

The average viewer age for the Facebook broadcasts was close to 20 years younger than average viewer age on traditional TV, an MLB spokesman said.

From a business standpoint, positive viewership metrics outweighed the fan and media criticism, Treanor said. He believes people became more accustomed to the broadcasts as the season went on. It's a difficult habit to break.

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Ultimately, I think it was probably a good deal for [MLB]. The exclusive Facebook broadcasts approached viewers differently than typical TV productions.

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Broadcasters fielded comments and questions from Facebook viewers, often relaying those inquiries to managers and players during in-game interviews. The lack of commercials required them to fill additional airtime.

Strategic moments such as bunts and pitching changes sparked passionate discussions between announcers and members of the comment section. It was neat, it was a completely different element.

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I thought it was a lot more personal. Perkins, for example, only called Twins games, while Ryan Rowland-Smith called several Mariners contests. Perkins used his inside knowledge of the Minnesota clubhouse to help call an Aug.

Having worked with Twins starter Kyle Gibson the year before, Perkins asked Gibson in-depth questions about pitch selection and ways to put hitters away that a less-connected analyst would be unlikely to pose.

MLB Network regular Scott Braun, meanwhile, provided a consistent voice for Facebook viewers as the primary play-by-play man.

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Rich Waltz filled in for Braun on select broadcasts. To be able to have a manager on during a game and players on during a game and then get fans to ask questions, that was so cool to me. In MLB, it found a partner motivated to make the most of its platform.

He said tech glitches or other interruptions to the user experience matter much more to the average person than bigger-picture company misdoings.

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