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Why Facebook’s Cricket Content Deal Is a Big Deal

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Facebook (FB) has won exclusive digital content rights to show ICC (International Cricket Council) cricket content in the Indian subcontinent on its Watch video service. The ICC is the global governing body for cricket, much like what FIFA (International Federation of Association Football) is for soccer. The ICC deal is set to run through 2023.

Facebook’s ICC cricket content deal is a big deal in our view. In the race to build a popular destination for digital videos and attract more video advertising dollars, Facebook is up against giants: Google’s YouTube, Twitter, and Snapchat. In India, it competes with Hotstar for digital video viewers. Walt Disney (DIS) subsidiary Star India owns Hotstar.

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Facebook’s cricket deal boosts Watch video platform’s profile

The cricket content deal is part of Facebook’s efforts to boost its Watch video service in India as it battles competition. As cricket is the most-followed sport in India, the ICC deal could attract more viewers to its Watch video platform.

Facebook makes money from its Watch video platform through advertising. Demand for online video advertising is on the rise as traditional TV audiences shrink because of cord-cutting. The cricket deal could also help Facebook attract more advertising dollars in India, where there’s a huge growth opportunity. Zenith estimates India’s digital advertising revenue will rise to over $3.0 billion in 2021 from $1.4 billion in 2018.

Facebook derives almost all of its revenue from advertising. In the second quarter, for instance, ad sales contributed 99% of the company’s total revenue.

Facebook signs ESPN and European publishers for exclusive Watch videos

Facebook has also inked several other video deals for Watch. Last week, the company signed a deal with Disney’s ESPN for exclusive sports content. It has also signed on several prominent European publishers to supply it with original video content. Last year, Facebook won the broadcast rights for Spain’s La Liga soccer matches in the Indian subcontinent for multiple seasons.

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