Facebook edges closer to Premier League with Man Utd and Rooney

By Paul Nicholson

August 3 – Any doubts that Facebook wasn’t preparing a major broadcast assault in the world’s biggest sport can be dispelled with the social media giant tonight making Premier League history with the streaming of a Wayne Rooney’s testimonial match.

Played between Manchester United (the first time the club has played at Old Trafford under new manager Jose Mourinho) and Rooney’s first club Everton, it is also the first time a game between Premier League teams to be streamed live on Facebook.

Man Utd has more than 72 million Facebook likes while Rooney has over 25 million. But the game will be available to 1.7 billion people, streamed on both Rooney’s and the Manchester United Facebook pages.

Facebook is becoming increasingly active in and around football, and sports generally. Last weekend the platform streamed the launch of Liverpool’s third kit from New Balance with Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp and players live in the company’s San Francisco headquarters.

The company yesterday announced a deal with US television network NBC to share some of its Olympic content with Facebook and Instagram (which Facebook owns).

This could be an indicator of the kind of deal that football rights holders can initially expect from Facebook.

Facebook is to launch a ‘Rio Olympic Discover’ channel on the mobile app showing short clips of sporting action as well as behind the scenes footage. NBC Olympics and Facebook will also create a ‘Social Command Center’ for Rio 2016.

NBC will publish up to 20 Olympic highlights per day on the platforms, as well as a two-minute daily recap show. This will be available exclusively on Facebook for US users.

Rooney’s testimonial match looks like a significant toe in the water for Facebook as social and digital media continues to redefine the sports broadcast market, and its rights distribution.

Proceeds from the Rooney testimonial match will go to his four chosen charities.

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