Facebook will host highlights for all 256 regular season games, in addition to the playoffs and the Super Bowl, with users able to watch highlights of any game shortly after it ends, effective immediately. Also, the NFL will create unique behind the scenes content for Facebook’s dedicated video platform, Watch.
NFL viewership declined last year, and isn't faring well this season either. Average viewership for the NFL fell 8% year-over-year (YoY) in 2016, from 17.9 million to 16.5 million, and NFL ratings are down double-digits so far this season. This makes the partnership particularly timely and important for the following reasons:
- The partnership can expose Facebook’s younger users to NFL content. That's critical because the NFL's live viewer base is aging — the average viewer was 50 years old in 2016, up from 44 in 2000, according to Magna Global. Finding ways to reach more teens and millennials is therefore valuable, especially as these demographic segments increasingly turn away from pay-TV in favor of digital platforms. Additionally, younger users exposed to the NFL games might become fans of the league, and more NFL fans could lead to a higher demand for merchandise like team jerseys, increasing e-commerce sales.
- It adds to the array of other deals the NFL has with digital companies to boost viewership. The league signed a three-year partnership deal with Tencent to stream Thursday, Sunday, and Monday Night Football games in China for the 2017-2019 seasons. Meanwhile, Amazon paid the NFL $50 million for a one-year deal to stream 10 Thursday Night Football games to Prime members. The league will likely continue to partner with digital players to stream NFL content as cord-cutting further accelerates.