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Facebook is paying for the rights to stream dozens of college basketball games this season in its quest to cement a foothold in the world of live sports programming.
On Thursday, the tech giant announced a new deal with digital sports broadcaster Stadium to stream 47 college basketball games between mid-November and early March. Facebook will pay Stadium for the games, and Stadium will produce the broadcasts exclusively for Facebook. Facebook declined to say how much it’s paying.
Most of the games feature one or two schools that might only draw your interest if you gamble on college basketball, or if you take your March Madness research incredibly seriously. Still, the schedule looks much stronger than the list of college football games Facebook streamed this fall.
Facebook will stream a few games from well-respected but smaller basketball schools, like Saint Mary’s, UNLV and San Diego State. Facebook is also getting some one-off games featuring power conference schools, like Pittsburgh (ACC), Washington State (Pac-12) and Minnesota (Big Ten).
A few early-round games from the Conference USA and Mountain West Conference end-of-season tournaments will also stream live on Facebook.
Facebook has a clear interest in streaming live sports, though sports rights are tough to come by. Facebook lost out on bids to stream Indian cricket matches and NFL football earlier this year, but has secured the rights to a number of lower-tier events, like these college basketball games. The company’s most high-profile deal may be an agreement with Fox Sports to stream some world-class soccer matches.
All of Facebook’s efforts around sports are tied to the company’s broader video strategy. Along with live sports, Facebook has been paying video creators for original shows as a way to create a YouTube-style home for video inside the Facebook app. The hope is that people will think of Facebook as a video destination, not just a place where they might stumble across something in their News Feed.
These basketball games will also live inside that new video section, called Watch.
The first game, a matchup between Belmont and Middle Tennessee State, tips off Thursday night at 7:30 pm ET.
Here’s the full schedule (all times ET):
- Nov. 16, 2017: Belmont at Middle Tennessee, 7:30 PM
- Nov. 19, 2017: Saint Mary’s at San Jose State, 8:00 PM
- Nov. 21, 2017: Florida Gulf Coast at Middle Tennessee, 7:30 PM
- Nov. 24, 2017: Minnesota vs UMass, 12:00 PM
- Nov. 24, 2017: Alabama vs BYU, 2:30 PM
- Nov. 25, 2017: BYU vs UMass, 2:00 PM
- Nov. 25, 2017: Minnesota vs Alabama, 5:00 PM
- Nov. 25, 2017: Southern Utah at UNLV, 10:00 PM
- Nov. 28, 2017: Brown at Rhode Island, 7:00 PM
- Nov. 28, 2017: Davidson at Charlotte, 7:00 PM
- Nov. 29, 2017: Eastern Kentucky at Western Kentucky, 8:00 PM
- Nov. 29, 2017: Illinois State at Nevada, 10:00 PM
- Nov. 30, 2017: Memphis at UAB, 8:00 PM
- Nov. 30, 2017: New Mexico State at UTEP, 10:00 PM
- Dec. 1, 2017: Pittsburgh vs. Duquesne, 7:00 PM
- Dec. 3, 2017: Bradley at San Diego State, 6:00 PM
- Dec. 5, 2017: Wake Forest at Charlotte, 7:00 PM
- Dec. 9, 2017: Mississippi at Middle Tennessee, 6:00 PM
- Dec. 9, 2017: Washington State at UTEP, 9:00 PM
- Dec. 19, 2017: UC Davis at Nevada, 10:00 PM
- Dec. 22, 2017: Northern Colorado at UNLV, 10:00 PM
- Dec. 23, 2017: Harvard at George Washington, 12:00 PM
- Dec. 30, 2017: Middle Tennessee at UAB, 5:00 PM
- Jan. 4, 2018: Pacific at Saint Mary’s, 10:00 PM
- Jan. 9, 2018: Dayton at Richmond, 7:00 PM
- Jan. 10, 2018: Wyoming at New Mexico, 9:00 PM
- Jan. 17, 2018: Richmond at VCU, 7:00 PM
- Jan. 17, 2018: Utah State at Boise State, 9:00 PM
- Jan. 20, 2018: Saint Louis at UMass, 2:00 PM
- Jan. 20, 2018: Saint Mary’s at Pacific, 10:00 PM
- Jan. 24, 2018: Rhode Island at Fordham, 7:00 PM
- Jan. 27, 2018: UTEP at Middle Tennessee, 7:00 PM
- Jan. 31, 2018: La Salle at Davidson, 7:00 PM
- Feb. 1, 2018: Middle Tennessee at ODU, 8:00 PM
- Feb. 8, 2018: Saint Mary’s at Loyola Marymount, 10:00 PM
- Feb. 10, 2018: ODU at LA Tech, 7:00 PM
- Feb. 17, 2018: Middle Tennessee at LA Tech, 7:00 PM
- Feb. 21, 2018: Duquense at St. Bonaventure 7:00 PM
- Feb. 22, 2018: LA Tech at UTEP, 9:00 PM
- Feb. 22, 2018: Pepperdine at Saint Mary’s, 10:00 PM
- Feb. 24, 2018: UAB at Middle Tennessee, 7:00 PM
- Mar. 3, 2018: La Salle at Saint Joseph’s, 2:00 PM
- Mar. 7, 2018: Mountain West Conference 1st round – #8 vs. #9, 2:00 PM
- Mar. 7, 2018: Mountain West Conference 1st round – #7 vs. #10, 4:30 PM
- Mar. 7, 2018: Mountain West Conference 1st round – #6 vs. #11 7:00 PM
- Mar. 8, 2018: Conference-USA Quarterfinal Game, 7:30 PM
- Mar. 8, 2018: Conference-USA Quarterfinal Game, 10:00 PM