The Premier League has agreed its first ever rights deal with social media giant Facebook, according to The Times.
Facebook has outbid BeIN Sports and Fox Sports Asia to secure coverage of English soccer’s top flight in Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos for the three-year period covering 2019 to 2022.
Financial terms of the deal have not been officially released, but The Times says the contract is worth UK£200 million (US$265 million).
The rights package includes all 380 Premier League matches each season in what is Facebook’s biggest move into the live sports market to date. The company, which made its intentions clear with a US$600 million bid for Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket last year, recently hired Eurosport chief executive Peter Hutton to head up its global live sports programming division, with a brief to increase the platform’s sports offering.
Along with Amazon, Facebook was widely tipped to make a play for the Premier League’s domestic rights this year, with the league specifically structuring two packages to make them more attractive to the tech giants. It was ultimately Amazon which made its move, securing 20 live matches each season for three years from 2019.
However, the Premier League’s deal with Facebook in Asia will serve as further evidence that the league is keen to appeal to streaming services as well as traditional broadcasters. The Premier League's total income from domestic rights for the next three-year period has dropped significantly compared to its current agreements, but the league's executive chairman Richard Scudamore has said he is confident that the shortfall will be offset by sales of overseas media rights, with increases expected in most major markets.