With Multibillion Dollar Live Streaming Market In Sight, Facebook Appoints Eurosport Chief

Facebook is embarking on a multibillion dollar effort to obtain streaming rights for its top-flight live sport and is slated to recruit a senior broadcasting executive to lead the effort.

Facebook had become frustrated after it could not secure its $600 million bid for the steaming rights for the Indian Premier League cricket matches and as a result has initiated a global search for a head of live sport.  This resulted in the appointment of Eurosport’s chief executive, Peter Hutton.

The appointment assumes significance because there are just a few days left before the bidding process for TV and digital rights for Premier League in the U.K. for the period of 2019 to 2022, worth £6 billion comes to an end on February 9. It is being anticipated that bids for the same matches would be placed by both Facebook and Amazon separately.

Additionally, this appointment now places Facebook as a potential threat to the traditional media companies which have always had a stronghold on prime sports vent rights.

One of Hutton’s achievements was securing a £920 million deal that gave rights of broadcasting of the Olympic Games all across Europe. He had worked for a period of three years at Eurosport, owned by US pay-TV company Discovery.

He had earlier looked after the selling rights including the Fifa World Cup and grand slam tennis while being the co-chief executive at the sports rights group MP & Silva.

Football is followed by the largest number of the 2 billion global users of Facebook. Streaming of Champions League matches along with Fox Sports and Major League Soccer, Mexico’s top league are the two instances where the world’s largest social networking site had engaged in live streaming through partnerships.

But despite the appointment of Hutton, it is unlikely that Facebook would be a bidder for the UK Premier League rights auction because Hutton is tipped to be able to take up his new role and position only after Eurosport gets over with the broadcast of the Winter Games in South Korea.

However, in order to attract interest and bidding from large digital players like Facebook or Amazon, the Premier League games rights have been designed to create two different packages. Two rounds of games are offered for simulcast in each package which makes it just ideal for bidding by a streaming platform for implementation but not within the strategies of traditional media companies such as Sky and BT which are pay-TV broadcasters.

On the other hand, Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said that the social media platform is attempting to address the issue of “sensationalism” and “misinformation” and for this purpose, it would start according priority to “trustworthy” news outlets from among the stream of social media posts.

Surveys would be used to determine the level of trustworthiness of new outlets by the largest social media platform of the world.

“High quality news” would be given priority over less trusted sources on its news feed starting next week, Zuckerberg said, outlining the company’s plan to alter the trustworthiness of news on Facebook.

“There’s too much sensationalism, misinformation and polarization in the world today,” Zuckerberg wrote.

“Social media enables people to spread information faster than ever before, and if we don’t specifically tackle these problems, then we end up amplifying them,” he wrote.

(Adapted from TheGuardian.com)


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