A few days ago, The Times reported that Facebook had won the rights to stream all 380 Premier League matches from 2019 to 2022 in 4 east Asian countries: Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam.
The deal, which was worth $264 million, comes at a time when big tech platforms have been flirting with the Premier League: In June, Amazon won exclusive rights to broadcast 20 Premier League games in the UK; the EPL has also had talks with YouTube and Netflix.
The Premier League is the world’s most-watched leagues, and is particularly popular in East Asia – 38% of the Premier League’s viewers come from the Asia and Oceania region. Facebook’s biggest user base comes from the Asia Pacific region which accounted for about 40% of its monthly active users in the first quarter of 2018.
Digital platforms keep encroaching on traditional TV channels, and premium sports content seems to be the latest battleground in cord cutting.
In 2015, broadcasters Sky and BT paid a combined $6.9 billion for the TV rights for three seasons. Both these broadcasters saw their viewers shrink: during the 2016 – 2017 season, Sky saw a drop of 14% in average viewing time; BT lost thousands of paid subscribers in February. Meanwhile, time spent by consumers per day online is up 4% this year.
With the move, Facebook will be pitting itself against BeIN Sports and Fox Sports Asia. In fact, Facebook deals are exclusive, meaning no other broadcaster will be able to challenge them in those four countries. We must not that Facebook had previously partnered with Fox Sports, with the latter allowing it to broadcast some Champions League games in the USA.
It is still unclear whether Facebook will be streaming the games for free or whether it might charge a fee in exchange. Either way, even if you happen to be abroad, you would still be able to access Facebook Premier League coverage via VPNs. What is a VPN exactly?