Facebook Australia takes on Foxtel and Netflix with new sport and original content deals

Michael Willson/AFL Media/Getty Images
  • Facebook Australia has signed a string of new deals allowing it to stream sports content from the NRL, AFL and Women’s Big Bash League cricket.
  • Under the deal, Australians will be able to watch some games, match highlights, weekly wraps and original programming on the social media platform.
  • Facebook Australia will also produce its own original content for the first time, including a talk show that features musicians, artists and fitness experts.

Australians could soon be turning to Facebook to watch their favourite shows and sporting teams compete, as the social media giant announces a string of new content deals.

The Australian arm has teamed up with the National Rugby League (NRL), the Australian Football League (AFL), as well as Cricket Australia, to broadcast sporting content on its Facebook Watch platform.

Thumbing its nose at cable TV provider Foxtel which is owned by News Corp Australia and broadcasts both football codes, the deal will allow Facebook to play the NRL and AFL season’s classic matches, highlights, weekly wraps, and live original programs.

“We have such a passionate and loyal fan base and we want to ensure that our AFL and AFLW content reaches as many fans as possible and they can consume it all over the globe across the channels they prefer,” AFL head of content and distribution Julian Dunne said in a statement distributed to the press by Facebook Australia.

Meanwhile, social network has signed another deal with Cricket Australia will allow Women’s Big Bash League matches to also be streamed on Watch.

“Each month 16 million Australians come together on the platform to connect and share with family and friends, and key sporting moments are regularly a focus of conversation,” Facebook Australia managing director Will Easton said in the statement.

“Sports fans on Facebook are one of the most highly engaged communities and these partnerships with the codes offer followers exciting content to engage with in new ways. We’re thrilled that through Facebook, Aussies will be able to get the highlights from both sports and live original programs.”

The Facebook deal comes just six-months after Foxtel launched Kayo Sports, a low-cost video streaming service.

Both deals mark a departure from traditionally competitive bidding between broadcasters, which have helped drive the price of TV and digital broadcasting rights to all-time highs in recent years.

Last year, Nine Entertainment Co paid a record-breaking $300 million, for example, to televise the Australian Open for five years, after wresting control of it away from the Seven Network.

Aside from sport, in a nod to Netflix’s pivot to original content, Facebook says it won’t just broadcast other people’s content but start producing its own as well.

It will launch an original Australian talk show, V13Ws, with Jamie Zhu collaborating with musicians, artists, health and fitness experts.

The string of deals form a push by the social networking site to promote its Watch platform – which attracts a global audience of 720 million users per month – as well as to monetise its content.

“For advertisers, this means non-skippable ads up to 15 seconds, which is a format the industry has been asking for,” Facebook Australia director Naomi Shepherd said.

Disclosure: Business Insider Australia is operated by Pedestrian Group, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Nine Entertainment Co.

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