NFL signs multiyear programming deal with Facebook

NFL
The NFL is using tools like OTT video to lure millennials back to broadcast games. (Josh Hallett/Flickr)

The National Football League and Facebook have a new multiyear programming deal that includes game recaps, highlights and a number of recurring series.

The NFL will push recaps and official highlights from all 256 regular season games, plus the playoffs and the Super Bowl, to Facebook users globally.

NFL Media will distribute content from NFL Films on Facebook’s Watch platform, series including NFL Turning Point, Sound FX and NFL Game Recaps will be posted each week during the NFL season and available to people in the U.S. on Watch. Turning Point focuses on behind-the-scenes strategy and Sound FX focuses on players who are mic’d up during games.

“We have millions of fans on Facebook, and they continue to demonstrate an incredible appetite for NFL content,” said Hans Schroeder, chief operating officer of NFL Media, in a statement. “We’re excited to bring a compelling set of highlights and shows from the NFL and our Clubs to our fans on Facebook.”

“We're excited for Watch to become a destination for NFL fans to catch up on the latest on-field action and connect with one another,” said Dan Reed, Facebook’s head of global sports partnerships, in a statement. “These full game recaps and shows will deliver comprehensive coverage while enabling the active NFL fan communities on Facebook to watch and debate the top storylines from each week."

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The programming deal for Facebook may serve as a consolation prize after Amazon won the rights to stream Thursday Night Football games amid a bidding war that reportedly drew offers from Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

For the NFL, the deal marks further attempts by the league to reach audiences outside of the traditional linear TV environment as ratings continue to be an issue.

NFL owners like the New England Patriots’ Robert Kraft have conceded that millennial audiences may not be as attracted to the NFL’s product and that the league has to use tools like OTT video to lure them back in to broadcast games.

"For us the future is OTT," Kraft in June told an audience at Cannes. "The thing we have to be careful of is millennials. They don't watch TV, they don't have TVs or subscribe to cable. So we have to bring that audience in. Partly it's done through fantasy games and linking to that. Over-the-top is a great opportunity."