Facebook and Twitter’s live video rivalry goes beyond Periscope and Facebook Live. Both social platforms are also duking it out over live sports broadcasts from major organizations.
Over the next two weeks, the NBA and USA Basketball will be live-streaming a mix of nine men’s and women’s exhibition games. You’ll be able to watch Kyrie Irving, Maya Moore, Boogie Cousins, and Elena Delle Donne take on the likes of Argentina, China, and France, all from the comfort of your News Feed. The games will be streamed on the Facebook pages for USA Basketball and the NBA, and they may show up as promoted posts in your feed, too.
According to the NBA, the games will only be aired live; there won’t be cached versions to watch later. And Facebook’s stream will be simulcast straight from NBA TV, which should offer insight to how many people stream the games online versus on TV. The live streams will be available internationally. As for actual Olympic basketball games, those won’t be streaming in the same place. The broadcast rights are owned by NBC.
Earlier this year, Facebook reportedly bid for the rights to live-stream NFL games. Twitter ultimately won out. But Facebook also launched Facebook Sports Stadium, a hub for real-time information and social sharing centered around live games.
This particular arrangement appears to be spearheaded by the NBA itself, so it’s hard to know what (if anything) it says about Facebook’s future sports-streaming plans. It’s definitely an area of interest, one with ample competition. Earlier this year, Twitter aired live Wimbledon coverage, though it was disappointing. There weren’t any live streams of matches, just press conferences and commentary. Previously, Yahoo had streamed a low-stakes NFL game, with mixed results.
All of which is to say, there’s still plenty of room for someone to figure out how to do live sports on social media. That alone makes this Facebook-NBA partnership worth watching. The USA basketball streaming schedule on Facebook starts tomorrow (Friday, July 22) at 9pm ET with the US men’s team going toe-to-toe against Argentina.