After initially dabbling in acquiring sports rights by targeting relatively minor sports that did not require a rights fee, Facebook showed its intentions (or more accurately had them inadvertently revealed when the BCCI published the results of the tender) to be more aggressive by unsuccessfully bidding $600m over five years for digital rights on the Indian subcontinent to cricket’s Indian Premier League.
It has since targeted premium sports properties and successfully acquired rights to the English Premier League, Spanish LaLiga, Uefa Champions League and Copa Libertadores across various territories. It has however remained disciplined in its acquisition strategy, for example paying far less than the incumbent broadcasters for Premier League rights in Thailand, Laos and Cambodia; Spanish LaLiga rights in the Indian subcontinent; and Uefa Champions League rights in Brazil.
It is also aggressively targeting Latin America, where Facebook has a reported 271 million users; the Indian subcontinent (Facebook’s second-biggest market), and Thailand and Vietnam, two of the top 10 markets for mobile video viewing worldwide.
Facebook has also been prepared to be flexible when acquiring rights. For example, it is reportedly prepared to sublicense Premier League rights in Thailand and Vietnam to local broadcasters and will be sharing production costs with Turner-owned broadcaster Esporte Interativo for Uefa Champions League rights in Brazil.
To date, Facebook has yet to acquire premium sports rights in Europe, despite recent tenders seemingly being designed to tempt them to acquire a package of rights. It has in the US, however, acquired exclusive rights to stream one MLB game per week, reportedly paying $1m per game to do so.