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NFL brings highlight videos to Facebook in key test for social network

Facebook's search for professionally produced videos to deliver to users leads to NFL

Facebook’s push to crack open a wider niche in the world of online video has sped forward with a pair of “BeastQuakes.”

The online social network provider confirmed Wednesday that it’s partnering with the National Football League on a “small video sponsorship test.” The first video, posted Tuesday morning on the NFL’s Facebook’s page, featured two side-by-side clips of touchdown runs by Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch. The teaser asked fans to comment about which of the “BeastQuakes” by the player nicknamed “Beast Mode” was a bigger deal.

A 10-second ad for Verizon Wireless follows the 33-second highlight video, and a Verizon Wireless banner runs across the bottom. There’s a link to download the NFL Mobile app for Verizon at the end. More than 3 million people views had been logged in after about 20 hours.

“We will be evaluating how people, publishers and marketers respond to this kind of co-branded video content,” a Facebook spokesperson said. “We have nothing else to share at this time.”

Facebook has been searching for professional produced content to deliver to its 1.35 billion users because video advertising tends to yield more revenue than traditional text-and-image based ads. But how the content owner and Facebook can reap the biggest gains off video remains a question. The first experiment is looking at whether showing the ad after the video plays -- without delay -- could ultimately be a better experience for all parties than YouTube-style “pre-roll” ads that viewers often skip or ignore.

The NFL has posted interviews and promo videos to Facebook, but this was the first time that the sort of game highlights the league closely protects distribution of have appeared on its page. The video was shared with a “custom” audience, according to the page, suggesting that the NFL is targeting the video to specific fans or specific regions.

Besides highlights from the previous week of games, the NFL could post videos on Facebook about topics such as breaking news or fantasy football.

“This is the first step in a broader relationship with Facebook to share premium content with NFL fans across their community," an NFL spokesman said in a statement.

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Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times

UPDATES

2:40 p.m. Updated with a quote from an NFL spokesman.

The original version of this post was published at 12:58 p.m.

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