How Facebook is creating its own sports streaming service and what we can all learn from it
In August 2017, when Facebook launched its video platform – Facebook Watch – it was a bold move to target the huge growth in online video consumption. Video is by far the most engaging content type. It’s also relatively easy to monetise. So Facebook Watch is no great surprise, as it provides the social media giant with an on-demand service for longer-form video content and a space to promote its own video productions.
Facebook’s reasoning is actually very clear: People love watching video and Facebook wants to earn money from adverts shown in those videos. But, while Facebook has made it super easy to stream and publish videos on their platform – and with consumption still growing – there has never been one central place to find video content on the platform.
To find video content, Facebook users have to scroll down their feeds or use the search feature (which is far from useful when it comes to video search). Facebook has been aware of these limitations for some time – realising it’s not good enough if they want to be a serious player in the video market and why people still prefer to watch videos on YouTube or via on-demand services.
With Watch (released only in US so far), Facebook now has a go-to central area where users can easily find video content, which Facebook hopes will rival the likes of YouTube.
What’s inside Facebook Watch?
Video is not going to disappear from a user’s feed, but with Facebook Watch there will be more professional productions served in a better way. Watch’s menu is mostly a mix of comedy, documentaries, reality shows and documentary series dedicated to sports. The latter include shows like:
- Ball in the Family – dedicated to talented basketball players within Ball family and its notorious patriarch, LaVar. See how Ball’s family build their popularity with their video appearances here.
- Behind the Wall – showcasing NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace’s preparations for the Daytona 500 race.
- Bill Murray & Brian Doyle-Murray’s Extra Innings – which follows everyone’s favourite Bill Murray and his brother Brian Doyle-Murray, visiting Minor League ballparks where they explore small but strong communities dedicated to baseball.
- Fly Guys – which shows talented acrobats and their preparations to perform new stunts.
In the above, it’s easy to spot that Facebook Watch’s sports dedicated shows are not focused on mainstream events like playoffs etc. Instead they show what we used to call ‘behind the scenes’ in the cinema industry – for example, a look behind leagues like the NBA. Each episode of a series is often only 9 to 25 minutes long, just enough for online audiences.
Sports streaming – the future of Watch?
At the moment Facebook is relatively limited by the streaming rights secured by traditional broadcasters. If this doesn’t sound ambitious enough for you – it is still the first year of Facebook’s efforts to create their own TV on-demand service with sports at the fore.
However, Facebook is definitely positioning itself as an important player when it comes to buying streaming rights in the future. They already have lots of experience streaming live sports (deals with NBA, Liga MX, MLS, MLB) and now, with Watch, they have an on-demand platform on which to build for the future.
With such a sports streaming strategy in place, it seems there’s really nothing to stop Facebook from becoming the #1 digital sports streaming platform.
Ok, but I don’t have such resources!
Facebook’s plan to create an on-demand platform that will displace traditional TV in terms of sports streaming is ambitious. There are not many companies that could try this and succeed. But even smaller organisations like sport federations, leagues and associations can learn a few lessons.
Here are some tips for you:
First of all – start producing video. It’s the content of today and tomorrow, pretty affordable and will have a huge impact on your fanbase. No matter if you are producing five events per year or your league organises 200 games each season, video is more effective at creating online engagement than any other content type. Every day without video is your loss!
Next – include live video streaming in your marketing strategy. In the sports industry (and any other live-based industry to be honest) being here and now is everything. But you need to bear in mind that your fans aren’t always able to visit the stadium. If your organisation is international, you need to reach out to your global fans. Fans everywhere will want to see your content!
I bet you have plenty to offer your fans – so now tell your story! Use different content types and play with video. Create viral GIFs, best-play compilations, bloopers etc. Don’t limit yourself to the day of your event only – be active all the time, pump up the atmosphere surrounding important games and get involved in your fan community. See how big sports clubs are keeping their fans excited with creative video content here.
Once you start creating and showing your video content, remember that your audience will be watching it everywhere. Literally! If you want to keep them entertained, make your videos mobile-friendly. Especially if you’re focusing on social media, as it’s consumed largely on mobiles. If you want to know more about mobile suited formats, click here.
With your own video content and a vibrant community built around your events, club, league or organisation you can finally monetise your productions. Involve your business partners and give them and their branding visibility in your videos. You can easily measure views and the reach of videos – extremely helpful data when negotiating advertising deals. You might create your own on-demand video platform or sell video subscriptions to allow fans around the world to see what you have to offer.
Even if you already have a streaming rights contract, there’s still a lot of stuff you can show – such as interviews with players, press conferences, training sessions or locker room insights. With some creative thinking there will be a plethora of things you can show to your audience. Just try to think outside the usual video-content box!
While not everyone has Facebook’s ambitions and resources, it’s important to realise that an effective video and live streaming strategy is possible to execute for organisations of all sizes and from a range of different industries. And, if you’re going to learn, then learn from the best! Meanwhile, why not consider one of our products – Tellyo Pro or Tellyo On Demand. See what suits your needs the best!