Facebook’s 2-year NFL deal for Watch shows includes sharing ad revenue

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Facebook’s NFL deal may serve as a playbook for how the social network plans to score TV viewers and advertisers.

On Tuesday Facebook and the NFL announced that the sports league would distribute game highlights, recap clips and weekly shows through the social network’s new home for TV-like video, Watch.

The two-year deal will have Facebook pay the NFL a guaranteed amount upfront. Then, after Facebook makes back that money from selling ads within the NFL’s videos, the two companies will split the ad revenue, according to a person familiar with the matter.

An NFL spokesperson declined to comment. A Facebook spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The NFL deal bolsters Facebook’s bid to cultivate TV-style viewership and attract TV-favoring advertisers. While Facebook has operated a video ad business since introducing autoplay video ads in 2014, those ads appeared while people scrolled through their news feeds, making it harder for advertisers to capture audiences’ attention and justify reallocating their budgets away from TV. Then Facebook began investing in licensing TV-like original programming, inserting TV-like ads in the middle of the videos and finally rolling out a home for TV-like videos. Now it has a deal with the producer of TV’s most premium content.

However the deal is not a guaranteed win for Facebook. For starters, the social network had struck a similar deal with the NFL to share ad revenue in exchange for game clips in December 2014, but that deal dissolved in less than a year. Of course in that instance Facebook placed the ads at the end of videos where people were less likely to watch them, as opposed to now slotting them in the middle of videos, which should mitigate attrition.

Facebook’s deal with the NFL also falls short of airing actual games over the social network, though not for lack of trying. Facebook has reportedly tried to win the rights to broadcast games in each of the past two years, but it lost to Twitter and Amazon, respectively. And the NFL will not be producing new shows exclusively for Facebook that cannot be found outside of the social network, though it will customize the editing of those shows for distribution on Facebook.

The NFL will distribute its videos through three show-specific Pages. NFL Turning Point will air weekly episodes that goes behind-the-scenes of a single game with breakdowns of individual plays, pre- and post-game clips and sideline soundbites. Sound FX will showcase the sounds of the gridiron each week by cobbling together clips of players wearing microphones during games. And NFL Game Recaps will post videos recapping each game that was played that week.

Additionally the NFL and each of its teams will also post game highlight clips to their respective Facebook Pages.

About The Author

Tim Peterson, Third Door Media’s Social Media Reporter, has been covering the digital marketing industry since 2011. He has reported for Advertising Age, Adweek and Direct Marketing News. A born-and-raised Angeleno who graduated from New York University, he currently lives in Los Angeles. He has broken stories on Snapchat’s ad plans, Hulu founding CEO Jason Kilar’s attempt to take on YouTube and the assemblage of Amazon’s ad-tech stack; analyzed YouTube’s programming strategy, Facebook’s ad-tech ambitions and ad blocking’s rise; and documented digital video’s biggest annual event VidCon, BuzzFeed’s branded video production process and Snapchat Discover’s ad load six months after launch. He has also developed tools to monitor brands’ early adoption of live-streaming apps, compare Yahoo’s and Google’s search designs and examine the NFL’s YouTube and Facebook video strategies.


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