Social media giant, Facebook, will be delivering Spanish top-tier football to the Indian subcontinent and its burgeoning football fan base. Facebook’s agreement with La Liga football federation is not the first to be signed for the live streaming of sports online. Amazon, for example, has signed a deal which will allow it to broadcast 20 English Premier League matches in the following season. With the amount of Facebook’s winning bid not disclosed yet—but with Sony Pictures, according to Reuters, having paid $32 million to televise La Liga in the subcontinent over the past four years—Facebook must have seen enough value to have bettered Sony Pictures. However, according to CNBC, Facebook will not be monetising this venture of theirs, at least for the time being, as their streaming of La Liga matches will be advertisement free. This is after making the stream of matches available, free of cost, on the respective clubs’ and La Liga’s Facebook pages.
This brings into the limelight the, until now, rigid industry composition of content viewership, and especially that of sports broadcasting. With over-the-top (OTT) players blurring the conventional boundaries of online content and premium satellite/cable TV provisions, Facebook’s foray demonstrates their purchasing power over and above traditional players due to its multiple sources of revenue. With greater purchasing power comes greater capacity to both produce and acquire content. In India, digital advertising is growing at three times the industry-wide average, the OTT audience is expected to hit 500 million by 2020, from 250 million in 2017, and the number of 4G users is likely to double (~800 million) by 2023. This makes the prevalence and market penetration of OTT players likely to soon pose a serious challenge to traditional players.