Fans of the NFL will start seeing a lot more football on Facebook in the coming days. The Wall Street Journal reports the social network has partnered with the league to show short clips in News Feeds, which will quickly be followed by ads from Verizon. The move is apparently part of Facebook’s larger video ambitions as it looks to tackle (see what I did there?) YouTube.
The bottom line, of course, is meant to drive more ad revenue to Facebook; Verizon has stepped in to promote its wares after the clips, and the money will apparently be shared between Facebook and the NFL. That’s solid business. With the Superbowl in February, the timing is particularly important. I wouldn’t be surprised to start seeing clips showing up in News Feeds as early as Christmas Day.
The grab is an especially important touchdown for Facebook, because the NFL doesn’t typically like game content to go viral across social networks. The league doesn’t have its own YouTube channel, which is baffling, and instead relies on TV partners to show highlights. But even TV partners sometimes have limited rights to NFL content; the league doesn’t always allow streaming to mobile devices, for example, and some partners aren’t even allowed to tweet about games, according to the WSJ.
There’s an NFL Now app, but the newest partnership will give the league even greater reach. Last year, the NFL had a similar deal with Twitter, but Facebook is obviously a much larger platform. A Facebook spokeswoman told the WSJ that the social network will evaluate how people respond to the “video sponsorship test” before green-lighting a larger rollout.