Facebook made its much talked about hiring of former Eurosport CEO Peter Hutton official on Monday, naming him director, global live sports partnerships and programming at the social media giant, where he will help drive efforts to add live sports programming to its lineup.
Hutton joined Eurosport about three years ago from MP & Silva Group, where he was co-CEO of the international sports rights giant. He has also served stints at Fox International Channels and Star Sports.
Hutton wasted little time during his tenure at Eurosport, a unit of Discovery Communications, securing MLS rights in Europe outside the U.K. in 2015 and landing European TV and multiplatform rights for the 2018-2024 Olympic Games in June of that year.
“Peter is uniquely qualified to lead our live sports partnerships...he knows the global sports rights landscape, owns strong relationships, and has a track record of delivering results on multiple continents,” Reed said on his Facebook page. “Plus, he's worked on behalf of both broadcasters and rights holders. He’ll help us continue to collaborate with both, including our great partners at Discovery, as we seek to deliver world-class live sports content to our global community of sports fans.”
Facebook has expressed interest in live sports in the past – it bid about $610 million for rights to Indian Premier League cricket matches last year, but was bested by a $2.5 billion offer from 21st Century Fox.
Facebook was expected to be aggressive in the bidding for NFL Thursday Night Footballrights but sat out that negotiation, which was won by Fox. It was also expected to be interested in possibly wresting WWE SmackDown rights from long-time rights holder USA Network, but apparently sat on the sidelines in that negotiation as well. But the internet company has reached deals with the WWE for a 12-episode show that airs on Facebook Watch called Mixed Match Challenge featuring Raw and SmackDown wrestlers.
“I've thoroughly enjoyed my three years with Eurosport, an incredible experience with some brilliant people, both in Paris and in the wider Discovery family,” Hutton said on his Facebook page. “However, the potential to work with Facebook to help the team and its partners unlock the power of live sports is too good an opportunity to turn down. I'm looking forward to an exciting journey and a bundle of new experiences, and hope I live up to the trust of Dan Reed and his team.”
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