NFL extends, expands video deal with Facebook

The National Football League has signed a two-year extension of its partnership with Facebook, with the new term aimed at deploying additional video content through the social media giant.

The extended term, stretching an alliance first struck in 2017 that was based on the Facebook Watch video service, will again be based primarily on game recaps from every regular-season game, each lasting about three minutes in length. Also part of the agreement are video highlights from key league events such as the NFL Draft, Pro Bowl, and Scouting Combine, NFL Network content such as studio shows, and for this year a set of anniversary-themed material to celebrate the NFL’s 100 seasons of play.

The two parties are additionally working together to build more content based around specific team and player-based fan affinities, and will organize a weekly “Watch Party” based around a chosen game recap in which fans can discuss the game in real-time.

The NFL-Facebook partnership comes in a period of growth for both entities, as unique viewers of the video recaps on the portal grew 32 percent last year compared to 2017. And the league’s Opening Week of its 2019 season saw engagement of video clips on social media increase by a third compared to the start of 2018.

“It was never a question for us of whether we continue to work together,” said Rob Shaw, Facebook head of league and media sports partnerships. “We all wanted to keep going, and it was just a matter of putting the best structure together to build on what we did in the first two years and expand on what was working.”

Financial terms were not disclosed. But the deal is based on a two-tiered structure in which the NFL is guaranteed a rights fee payment followed by an agreement to share advertising revenue generated by the league content on Facebook. 

There are no geographic restrictions around the deal as it is global in nature. Rather, a key component of the new NFL-Facebook term is extending international consumption for the league content. Non-US visitors represented 28 percent of consumption of NFL game recaps on Facebook in 2018, and more than 22 million people watched at least of a minute of game recaps on Facebook in 2017-18.

“They have such an unparalleled size across digital media,” said Blake Stuchin, the NFL’s vice-president of digital media business development, referring to Facebook’s more than 2 billion daily active users worldwide. “This is a channel that reaches so many people and is core to what we do, and it’s a really important part of our overall goals for international growth.”