Univision to stream MLS matches on Facebook

Midfielder Derrick Etienne Jr. #7 of the New York Red Bulls battles for the ball with midfielder Carlos Carmona #14 of Atlanta United during the game at Bobby Dodd Stadium

Last month Univision announced they would be streaming more than 40 Liga MX matches live on Facebook in a move to grow the audience and increase viewer engagement. Also, the fact that there will be Facebook-specific commentators and other unique qualities (graphics, polls, etc) should take this above and beyond just another streamed simulcast but a totally unique viewing experience.

In one of the latest signs of that focus, the social network has signed a deal with the Major League Soccer association and broadcaster Univision that gives Facebook the exclusive English-language rights to stream 22 regular-season games in the US, to begin later this month. The partnership appears to be twofold: Facebook gets exclusive rights to popular soccer matches while MLS and Univision get to use the social media platform to interact with younger fans in new ways.

As part of the deal, MLS will produce live matchday studio content before games, an expansion of their Matchday Live programming which debuted on opening weekend. These shows will feature highlights and analysts from around the League and a preview of the day's upcoming matches.

The first MLS match to be streamed on Facebook will be Atlanta United hosting the Chicago Fire on March 18. The terms of agreement haven't been disclosed yet.

Sports deals are often tough because numerous leagues are locked into contracts with broadcasters that limit to what extent they can make their content available to newer platforms like Facebook Live.


This partnership is only "natural", according to the president of the network.

The announcement comes a little over a year after Facebook launched Sports Stadium, a service built into its core app that provides scores, stats and play-by-play info about live games.

"As the undisputed home of soccer in the US, Univision Deportes, together with MLS and Facebook, is committed to growing the sport across platforms and regardless of language".

What this mean for everyone else: easily consumable soccer if you so wish to watch. The NFL struck a deal with Twitter to show Thursday Night Football last season. The league also has its own streaming option, MLS Live, that's priced at $80/year or $15/month.

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