The world’s most powerful social media platform just clinched the deal, acquiring streaming rights to broadcast all 380 Premier League matches for the 2019-2020 season. Facebook plans to broadcast in Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos.
Thai media analysts said Facebook’s strong move will make it a giant rival of digital TV and pay-TV operators and it will finally become a TV station.
Mana Treelayapewat, dean of the school of communication arts at the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, said Facebook allows users, including major digital TV operators, to broadcast their content for free of charge and Facebook recently asked Thai digital TV operators to co-produce content running on its platform.
“Obviously Facebook is going to beat up digital TV and pay-TV operators by acquiring the streaming rights to these popular football matches,” said Mr Mana.
Facebook has been very successful in advertising on its application and will be able to earn more revenue with this strategy.
BeIN Sports has the exclusive rights to broadcast English Premier League football matches. TrueVisions has secured an exclusive sub-licence from BeIN Sports to broadcast in Thailand for three years from 2016.
Mr Mana said that the move was worrying for Thailand’s media industry because another giant search engine platform, Google, is expected to launch a new feature to compete with Facebook, probably by using YouTube as a content broadcaster.
All of these are disruptive technologies threatening Thailand’s media industry.
He said mass media in Thailand has been mainly digital TV, but Facebook and Google have increasingly dominated the market, severely disrupting the industry as more audiences shift to online platforms.
This includes the way ad agencies redefine their media spending because Facebook and Google can show audience statistics more precisely, which makes agencies’ work easier.
“Audiences and ad sponsors are expected to fade away from the traditional TV platform because online media can show more accurate data in terms of insights and statistics,” he said.
On the other hand, Time Chuastapanasiri, a media analyst, said Facebook does not only beat digital TV industry but every platform in the country, cable and satellite TV, pay-TV and it will totally change traditional TV consumption.
Facebook Live expanded into Thai TV industry with features that are convenient for users, broadcasting content through smartphones without the need to invest in additional equipment has lured viewership during primetime.
“Facebook will probably become the main TV station in Thailand’s the future, by digital TV operators being tools or content provider,” said Mr Time.
If Facebook Live becomes a TV station, the digital TV industry will be seriously impacted, he said.
Siwat Chawareewong, chief executive of advertising media company Group M, said that it is not surprising that Facebook has entered the live sport broadcast arena as it has a strong audience base.
The EPL rights owner, however, gave broadcasting licences to other media channels as well.
Mr Siwat said it will no longer divide traditional broadcasting from online because content makers want to distribute their content on every single channel.
“This is the age of multi-screens, by which content will become more personalised and segmented,” he said, adding that football fans still have the option to watch their favourite team on big TV screens, smart TVs or mobile phones.
Advertisers and brands will spend money on platforms and content that have strong viewership, Mr Siwat said.
Jarit Sidhu, head of operations at research firm IDC Thailand, said Facebook’s move is interesting as it is attempting to have its own content in live sport streaming, similar to Amazon Prime.
Content providers will move to build their own platforms, particularly movie content, similar to Disney, Netflix or other subscription video-on-demand players. Sports content is the only arena where there is no dominant player in the online platform.
However, unlike Facebook, Amazon Prime has a subscription model that can earn money.
“We have to see if Facebook’s revenue model is free with sponsorship and advertising or is subscription-based,” said Mr Jarit.
Mr Jarit said Facebook needs to prepare reliable streaming quality to satisfy users.
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