Facebook has signed a new deal to air exclusive content around the Indian cricket team's current tour of Australia, which will include a range of events and matches that will be shared direct to Facebook Watch, helping to boost viewership.
Facebook has made the deal with Sony Pictures Networks India - as explained by TechRadar:
"The partnership will involve exclusive video-on-demand match content being showcased on Facebook Watch, across three ODIs, three T20Is, and four Tests."
That, as noted, could provide a big boost for Watch, with Facebook becoming a key partner for one of India's most popular sporting events.
Live sports and social media seem to go hand-in-hand, yet various attempts to marry the two directly haven't yielded great results for the platforms as yet.
Both Facebook and Twitter have tried their hand at airing NFL and MLB matches, deals that have cost them a lot to secure, and delivered mixed results for engagement, while Twitter has streamed various smaller sports and events in an effort to become the home for real-time sports engagement.
But for some reason, it's never really been worth the investment. But still, with so much engagement around live sports events, it seems that there should be more opportunity there, that Facebook and/or Twitter should be able to capitalize on the popularity of sports and discussion to maximize their offerings.
That's where this deal comes in. Facebook is working hard to establish a stronger presence in India, where the platform currently sees some 300 million active users, it's biggest single market by far. And as more Indian users come online, Facebook continues to steadily grow its audience, and expand its opportunities.
The Indian market is not yet as lucrative as western regions, but if Facebook can establish itself as the key platform for the region, that will put it in a strong position to dominate, especially as the Indian economy recovers in the wake of the pandemic.
And cricket is huge in the nation. Millions of Indians are fanatical about the sport, and with the matches being played in Australia, Facebook will now provide a key supplementary portal, with Sony retaining the television rights for the games.
It's another significant step for Facebook's broader ambitions in the region. And maybe, it could provide a new way forward for Facebook to boost Watch viewership, and tap into the popularity of live sports events.