European soccer is coming to Facebook.The social network has inked a deal with Fox Sports to live-stream the Champions League tournament in September. Games will be broadcast in both English and Spanish on the Fox Sports Facebook page and Fox Deportes Facebook page, respectively.
The deal kicks off with two matches per day during the group stage and then continues with four round of 16 matches and four quarterfinal matches. Some matches will stream exclusively on Facebook, while others will also be broadcast on television in the U.S.
“Facebook is a social media powerhouse and a great partner to help us grow soccer in the United States. As people spend more and more time on mobile devices and social networks, offering matches on this platform is a natural extension,” said Fox Sports head of business operations David Nathanson. He noted that this year’s Champions League final saw 34 million people have 98 million interactions on Facebook, adding, “We are thrilled to be able to offer top-notch content to their immense soccer community.”
The Champions League matches add to a small but growing roster of live sports programming on Facebook. The company has also struck a deal with Major League Baseball for one game a week, and with Univision Communications for live Mexican soccer matches. “The UEFA Champions League is one of the biggest football tournaments in the world, so we’re thrilled to partner with Fox Sports to deliver live matches to fans on Facebook in the U.S. next season,” said Dan Reed, Facebook’s head of global sports partnerships. “This collaboration unlocks new distribution for Fox, giving the network a national platform for matches that won’t always be televised. And with different matches broadcast in English and Spanish on Facebook, our community of fans will have plenty of action to cheer on and chat about once the group stage kicks off in September.”
Facebook’s effort to build up its live programming slate comes as it simultaneously begins to ink deals for scripted and unscripted series that will stream exclusively on its platform, including competition series Last State Standing. The digital advertising giant is looking to boost ad rates to match the dollars commanded by the television industry.