Earlier this week it emerged Facebook is plotting to challenge traditional content providers like Sky Sports by streaming live sports.
Now it has emerged, the social network has acquired its first official content; although it’s more sports entertainment than sports, per se.
The new Facebook Watch platform has signed an accord with the grapplers at WWE for exclusive rights to a single-elimination, mixed tag-team tournament.
The 20-minute “Mixed Match Challenge” episodes will air across 12 weeks on Facebook Watch, presumably featuring one match per episode. The first episode arrives on January 16 2018 and airs at 9pm ET (2am UK time). You’ll be able to tune in from the dedicated Facebook page.
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Although WWE often dabbles in mixed tag action (one male performer and one female performer, never in the ring against each other) as side show matches, this is the first time the format has been showcased in a tournament.
Interestingly, the Facebook format will allow enable fans to “select match-ups and match stipulations,” perhaps via polls.
Among the stars confirmed for the tournament are Finn Balor, Braun Strowman, Shinsuke Nakamura and Sami Zayn on the male side, and Sasha Banks, Asuka, Charlotte Flair and Naomi from the women’s roster.
On its website WWE writes: “Each 20-minute episode will reflect a progressive approach to production, with elements optimized for mobile consumption, experimentation and social interaction, including the ability for the WWE Universe to engage with Superstars during the show. In addition, fans will have the opportunity to select matchups, match stipulations and more, on Facebook.”
The first step?
WWE usually reserves this kind of content for its pioneering, over-the-top WWE Network, which has changed the pay-per-view industry as we know it and proved a boon for cord-cutters.
It features the entire anthology of PPV events from the first WrestleMania in 1985, and thousands of hours of original and archive content from WWE and non-WWE companies.
There’s no word on how much Facebook is paying WWE for the privilege, but given WWE’s heavy focus on social, it wouldn’t be surprise if this is a very advantageous deal for Facebook.
In the report earlier this week, it was suggested Facebook bid an incredible $600 million (~£450 million), but missed out on rights to to the Indian Premier League cricket tournament.
That suggests the company has a budget that can compete with many of its rivals in the space.
Facebook is a little behind some of its online peers, with Twitter, Amazon and Yahoo all involved in the streaming of NFL games in recent years.
Amazon paid $50 million to the NFL for the rights to screen Thursday Night Football NFL games in 2017.
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Will you be tuning into the Mixed Match Challenge on Facebook Watch? Are you a WWE Network subscriber annoyed this is going to non-paying customers? Drop us a line @TrustedReviews on Twitter.