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Facebook (FB) Inks Deal to Stream Copa Libertadores Matches

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Facebook FB is expanding its live streaming portfolio with focus on major football tournaments. Per Reuters, the social media giant recently acquired part of the rights for the 2019-2022 Copa Libertadores from the South American football confederation, CONMEBOL.

Facebook will exclusively stream 27 out of 46 matches on Thursdays in all 10 CONMEBOL’s member nations, till the quarter-final stage.

For the remaining 19 matches (including the final), Facebook will share the rights with cable TV channels. Excluding Brazil, these games will be streamed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays in Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela.

Facebook Counting on Football to Gain Market Share

Football is one of the most popular sports in South America. Facebook is aggressively trying to capture viewership in this region through exclusive deals with the likes of Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) and CONMEBOL.

Under the deal with UEFA, Facebook will stream 32 live matches every season, beginning Aug 15, 2018 and continue through 2021. The company’s UEFA page will stream the Champions League matches and the UEFA Super Cup Final. The deal also includes match highlights on Wednesday and match of the week programs.

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As most of the region’s top players are associated with the European clubs and compete in the Champions League matches every year, the UEFA deal is a key catalyst. The Copa Libertadores deal will further improve Facebook’s footprint in the Hispanic region of South America.

Live Stream Focus to Boost Viewership

Facebook is focusing on Watch to capture the opportunity presented by ever-increasing video viewing on social media platforms. Apart from deals in South America, Facebook is also focused on India and Asia-Pacific, where it has ample room for growth.

Notably, Facebook and Spain’s elite soccer division, La Liga has partnered to air the upcoming three seasons of the tournament in the Indian sub-continent. Moreover, the company acquired the live streaming rights for the English Premier League (EPL) in Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos, for 2019-2022 time frame.

Additionally, Facebook has signed a deal with Major League Baseball (MLB) to stream 25 games on Watch this season. It also signed deals with 21st Century Fox FOXA and CNN to launch news shows.

These exclusive deals are expected to boost Facebook Watch’s growth. Live sports and videos will help Facebook further monetize and add to its 2.23-billion monthly active users. Moreover, the company’s efforts to incorporate increased video-oriented content are likely to bring in additional ad dollars.

Competition Intensifying for Facebook

Nevertheless, competition from other social media sites is intensifying. All players are trying to lure users to watch sports-oriented live streaming on their platform.

Twitter TWTR announced more than 30 new and renewed deals for live and original programming. Also, Amazon AMZN announced a groundbreaking deal for the exclusive rights to broadcast a small but important set of Premier League matches in the U.K.

Additionally, Facebook’s heavy spending in areas like safety & security, augmented reality/virtual reality (AR/VR), marketing, and content acquisition is expected to hurt profits.

Facebook currently carries a Zacks Rank #4 (Sell).

You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

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