By Sahil Patel
Aside from videos created by YouTubers, Facebook also wants some of the most sought-after traditional video content. As reported by The Wall Street Journal, the social giant has struck a deal with the NFL under which the league will upload and share game highlights and other video clips to football fans on the social network.
This is a pretty big deal, not the least of which because NFL rights aren’t easy to come by. Even the TV networks that pay billions of dollars to air live games on TV don’t necessarily have the rights to distribute clips on online and mobile platforms. Facebook now has the ability to offer an incredibly popular type of content — at least in the United States — to an audience that would watch and share it in droves.
But what makes this deal even more interesting is that there’s also an ad arrangement in place. Per WSJ, clips shared by the NFL on Facebook will be paired with post-roll ads for Verizon, which is paying to promote them within news feeds of NFL fans. Facebook and the NFL will share all revenue generated from these ads, though the exact split is unknown.
To be fair, NFL has been open to distributing and monetizing its video clips on social platforms before. It already has a similar deal with Twitter to distribute ad-supported videos.
That said, this particular deal is still an important step for Facebook’s future in video. Up until now, the company has encouraged creators, publishers, and media companies to upload videos directly to its social network. The focus has been on growing viewership — and it’s worked: the company has previously said it generates more than 1 billion views per day.
Soon, Facebook will need to figure out a way to monetize those videos, otherwise there would be no reason for video owners to publish directly on the social network. The company might be averse to pre-rolls, but it’s going to need to find a way to introduce ads into the viewing experience. Post-rolls might be the answers, or it might be some other format. The NFL deal indicates that Facebook is ready to start experimenting on this front.