Fox Sports and Sports Illustrated team up for Facebook Live videos

Fox Sports and Sports Illustrated’s digital team-up includes the co-production of original videos for Facebook and other social platforms.

Ahead of the sixth game of the World Series, Fox Sports streamed the sixth episode of a Facebook-only pregame show called “Live @ the World Series.” Hosted by reporters Ken Rosenthal and Tom Verducci, the 20-minute episode also included a segment with Fox Sports’ TV pregame crew of Alex Rodriguez, Pete Rose, Frank Thomas and Kevin Burkhardt; another segment with announcers Joe Buck and John Smoltz; and multiple pre-recorded pieces from Sports Illustrated including a video essay by Will Leitch.

“Live @ the World Series” comes less than a month after Fox Sports and Sports Illustrated announced an advertising partnership under which both companies’ web properties were rolled up into a larger digital network. The arrangement also opens up the ability for both companies to share content made by the other — and to explore ways both can work on original video for digital platforms.

Following the World Series, Fox Sports and Sports Illustrated will team up again for the Super Bowl (which Fox will air next year) and at least two other major sporting events, according to Matt Schnider, vp of digital production at Fox Sports. “The World Cup is not too far off, and we’re already having discussions for that as well,” he said.

Fox Sports will also bringing Sports Illustrated reports into its existing live programming. Last Friday, SI’s Andy Staples joined Fox Sports’ Joel Klatt on his weekly college football live show. In total, Fox Sports is making 20 hours of Facebook Live programming per month including other weekly shows covering the NFL, soccer and NASCAR. Expect SI personalities to show up in this programming where and when it makes the most sense, Schnider said.

For the World Series show, Fox Sports is handling the live aspects of the production. It has three boots on the ground — a video producer, a technical producer handling graphics and pre-recorded footage, and a social media producer to corral questions from commenters — at each shoot. Sports Illustrated, meanwhile is providing two or three editorial video segments for each show, which Fox Sports’ technical producer inserts into the live broadcast. (Some Fox Sports-produced segments are also pre-recorded.)

Once the episode has finished streaming on Facebook, Fox Sports and Sports Illustrated are cutting up the segments and distributing them across Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and their websites. Viewership for “Live @ the World Series” has varied between 360,000 and 660,000 total views. The full episodes on Facebook get a great majority of the views, with the Twitter clips typically contributing 20,000 to 30,000 views per episode.

“Not all of the fans who follow us on Twitter ‘like’ us on Facebook,” Schnider said. “We want to make sure we hit all the right buckets.”

“Live @ the World Series” is sponsored by State Farm. It’s the third Facebook Live show Fox Sports has sold a sponsorship to following deals it has with KFC and Dr. Pepper for its NFL and college football shows, respectively. A big part of the appeal, according to Schnider, is the fact that these live streams are not a side project.

“The digital and TV teams all work together and sit in on the same production meetings,” Schnider said. “That’s allowed us to have access to the same talent and help make digital an extension of TV, which is what we’re ultimately looking to do.”

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