Facebook To Partner With NFL in 2016? Why It Will Change Facebook And Football As You Know Them

Facebook is not normally a company to dabble in content it has to pay for, and a partnership between Facebook and the NFL, two establishments with completely different brand images, may seem downright outlandish at first. It appears such a coupling could be on the horizon, however, and it will probably change the Facebook landscape immensely.

Facebook’s video sharing capabilities are tremendously popular, with a recent report from Facebook stating that a total of 100 million hours of video are viewed by 500 million people across the globe every day. But Facebook’s video capabilities have always been restricted to videos created or linked to by users… until now.

Recent reports say that in 2016, Facebook wants to expand the video content viewable by its users to exclusives that Facebook actually has to pay for and make it available on the Live video service the company just launched.

“Facebook Live is a priority for them now,” one of the company’s execs told Variety.

2016 Facebook-NFL partnership?
As if you didn’t already waste enough time on Facebook. The average American already spends 40 minutes per day on Facebook, according to ‘Business Insider.’ [Photo by Gus Ruelas/AP Images]
For instance, the Inquisitr previously reported that Facebook has, as of late, been shelling out modest sums of money to celebrities to get them to vlog on Facebook Live video.

But Facebook’s recent campaign to obtain exclusive streaming rights for the NFL’s Thursday night football broadcasts is in a whole different stratosphere, as the competition for the rights is much steeper and the amount of money Facebook would pay is certainly not modest.

Re/code, the first source to touch upon the proposed Facebook and NFL team-up, relays that although no exact price has yet been set for Facebook’s potential streaming deal, the television broadcast rights to the ten Thursday night football games of the 2016-2017 season were recently sold to CBS and NBC at $225 million each for five games on each network.

2016 Facebook-NFL partnership?
Football is the most-watched sport in America. [Photo by Michael Springer/Getty Images]
Spending such a huge amount of money on rights to sports broadcasts may seem a bit out of character for Facebook, but Variety points out that Facebook has actually been ramping up its sports-related efforts lately. Facebook Stadium, a Facebook hub where sports fans can view real-time score and statistic updates and connect with each other to discuss what they see, launched in late January.

Obtaining streaming rights to the live broadcasts of some games would be huge for Facebook Stadium, a service that Facebook is putting a lot of stock into after estimating that nearly 650 million of its users across the globe are sports fans.

Although Facebook seems to be the main contender for the Thursday night football rights acquisition, it is not totally uncontested, with Yahoo, Amazon, and Verizon being Facebook’s main competitors in the issue.

Yahoo paid the NFL a not-too-shabby $20 million for online streaming rights to a single game last October, reports The Wrap, so it already has some background with streaming football.

Amazon has been going after a lot of high-profile programming lately in an attempt to compete with Netflix, the current video streaming king.

Verizon has also been making a huge push lately to get into the mobile streaming game with the purchases of huge properties like AOL and Go90.

Apple was also in the running until recently, as it is also making a significant effort to improve its exclusive streaming content library for Apple TV, but it recently pulled out in favor of its own original programming.

All this competition is understandable; NFL streaming rights are highly coveted, according to VideoNuze analyst Will Richmond.

“It would be a watershed moment. The NFL is the marquee media property.”

2016 Facebook-NFL partnership?
NFL fans are not only numerous but also very passionate and dedicated to their team. [Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images]
In 2014, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerburg said flat-out that Facebook will never be a home for long videos.

“You are not going to come to Facebook to watch a movie or a TV show — that’s long-form stuff,” he told a panel of investors.

But the company certainly seems to be changing its tune.

Assuming Facebook does win out, which it certainly has the clout (and bankroll) to do if it really wants to, it could be the beginning of a bold new direction for the service.

[Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images and David Ramos/Getty Images]