Sky Goes After Millennials With Live Streaming on Facebook

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Pan-European pay TV broadcaster Sky has revealed its intention to stream live news and sports coverage on Facebook Live this summer.

This does not mean live streaming of English Premier League matches, Formula One, Ryder Cup golf, or other sports to which Sky has broadcast rights, but ancillary coverage of those events in a bid to reach millennial audiences who are deserting the more conservative studio-bound presentation of traditional sports for coverage more in tune with informal fan discussion accessed on smartphones.

It's a strategy that has led Sky to invest $7 million in sports streamer Whistle Sports and to partner with them on a social media channel in conjunction with Sky chat show brand Soccer AM last October.

Sky says live streaming to Facebook will offer a unique behind-the-scenes look at a number of major events and breaking news stories.

In a blog post Sky digital director Lucien Bowater said Sky had already been experimenting with live streams and that the results have been "impressive."

"In less than 24 hours since [Facebook Live's] release, more than 100,000 people viewed [former cricketer] Michael Atherton’s exclusive interview with [cricketers] Freddie Flintoff and Kumar Sangakkara at the T20 World Cup," Bowater wrote. "In news, similar numbers watched [Sky News journalist] Mark Stone’s live report on the migrant crisis in Calais."

He added, "The platform works for us because it allows our news and sports teams to connect with the audience in a slightly different way—offering a different perspective, one that might not otherwise be possible in such a fast moving environment."

Sky previously partnered with Facebook on 'Instant Articles' enabling Sky to host articles from news and sports teams on the social network, as they’d appear on the web.

"By working with them, we've seen more views, more shares, and more interaction," said Bowater. "Increasingly though, our digital strategy has been geared towards video. We’ve seen an incredible response to some of the videos we've uploaded to our own social media channels."

Sky News, Sky Sports, and Soccer AM Facebook pages have amassed 14 million followers. In the past three months, the broadcaster says it has attracted almost 370 million video views, and in January, Sky News was one of the most watched Facebook video publishers in the world, Bowater noted.

This week Sky said it would stream some exclusive content ahead of boxer Anthony Joshua’s bid for the world heavyweight title, as well as coverage of the junior doctors' strike from Sky News.

Facebook is set to replace the Messenger button on its site as it ramps up competition with Twitter's Periscope. This will enable any user, not just major content owners, to live stream.

Facebook has also rolled out the ability to 'go live in Facebook Groups and Facebook Events; 'live reactions' make it easy for viewers to express their feelings in real time during a live broadcast; while a new dedicated place on Facebook's mobile app lets users discover live video.

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