The deal with the South American football confederation CONMEBOL is the latest bid by online platforms to tap into the lucrative live sports market. Facebook, which recently launched its new video service Watch around the world, did not reveal the value of the contract. The deal gives the social network exclusive rights to broadcast 27 games in the ten largest countries of South America on Thursdays, until the quarter-finals.
The California-based company will broadcast another 19 games on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, except in Brazil. These games, which will include the final, will also be broadcast by cable TV channels. Dan Reed, Facebook's Head of Global Sports Partnerships, told AFP: "Sports are important for us for two reasons. For one, our mission is to get people empowered in their community and bring them closer together, and sports does that, especially football across South America, and we have a large sports fans community in Facebook.
"Secondly as we grow Facebook Watch, video is a priority for us and particularly video experiences that are participatory and social." Facebook rolled out Watch globally in August, amid a shift in video viewing habits away from traditional television to online platforms including Netflix and Hulu, and with more people watching both professional and user content on services like YouTube.
The same month UEFA announced that Facebook will broadcast European Champions League matches in Latin America through 2021.