The Football Association (FA), English soccer’s national governing body, has announced that it will stream two exclusive live matches from the upcoming FA Cup fifth round via Facebook Watch in the UK.
Reading’s clash with Sheffield United on 3rd March and the Leicester City v Birmingham City tie on 4th March will be aired via the domestic club knockout tournament’s dedicated Facebook page for free, as well as on the Watch platform on mobile, smart TVs and streaming devices.
In January, seven betting firms – Bet365, Betfair, William Hill, Coral, Ladbrokes, Unibet and Paddy Power – voluntarily gave up their exclusivity for streaming matches in the UK not picked up by broadcasters outside of the 3pm blackout period.
That decision came amid pressure on the FA for permitting gambling firm Bet365 to stream FA Cup games on is website and app, offering fans access provided they bet or open an account 24 hours before kick-off. The FA has since said will review its media rights sales process for the betting industry ahead of the next rights cycle.
The FA’s decision to partner with Facebook Watch expands the tournament’s reach via social media. The FA Cup currently publishes extensive highlight clips on Twitter and for followers outside the UK it also produces extended videos distributed via direct message.
The remaining six games from the FA Cup fifth round will be broadcast between UK pay-TV network BT Sport and public-service broadcaster the BBC. BBC viewers will be able to choose between two games on both Tuesday and Wednesday, with games split between its flagship BBC One channel and the BBC iPlayer streaming service.