Facebook continues its attempts to find a foothold in the crowded streaming video market. The social networking site recently unveiled its new streaming service called “Watch” which will stream both self-produced content and professional studio productions. In addition, being a social networking product and all, the video service will feature a strong emphasis on the social aspect of watching videos, including informing users what their friends are watching and which programs are being talked about the most.
As part of its streaming video rollout, Facebook has been attempting to secure exclusive sports streaming rights – to varying degrees of success. The social networking giant has signed deals to stream some MLB, NBA, and Champions League soccer games, but shares the rights with television networks and other streaming services. However, Facebook has today announced a deal to be the exclusive streaming home of several college football games this upcoming season. While the announcement is a big step for Facebook, it’s not without a catch.
It turns out that the teams Facebook will have rights to are relatively small in the college football world. Facebook will stream games played by teams in Conference USA and the Mountain West conference, which include Miami (OH), Marshall, Utah State, Idaho State, UC Davis, San Diego State, Florida International University, Rice, San Jose State, Texas State, Wyoming, Southern Miss, University of Texas at San Antonio, and UNC Charlotte. The rights to these games were purchased from digital sports broadcaster Stadium, and Facebook will be the exclusive broadcast home for these games.
While none of these teams is exactly on the level of, say, Clemson or Alabama, it’s a good start for Facebook’s new video strategy. If the streams of these games catch on, it could encourage the social network to be more aggressive in trying to secure future sports streaming deals. Sports, after all, are more of a social event for many fans than they are about the sports themselves. By bringing sports to their social networking platform, Facebook could create an entirely new way to engage as a fan. That is, if you’re a Wyoming or Charlotte fan.