NEW YORK: Facebook is getting deeper into the professional sports streaming game, partnering with Major League Baseball to air 25 weekday afternoon games in an exclusive deal. The games will be available to Facebook users in the US on Facebook Watch, the company’s video feature announced last August, via the MLB Live show page. Facebook said Friday that recorded broadcasts also will be available globally, excluding select international markets. The package, MLB’s first digital-only national broadcast agreement, precludes teams from televising those games on their regional sports networks. Facebook’s selection will come from among the nine games per season teams can lose from their local telecasts to national video partners, which include Fox and ESPN. MLB owners approved the deal in a telephone meeting this week. MLB will receive $30m to $35m, a person familiar with the agreement told The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the amount was not released. Facebook, Twitter and Amazon and other tech companies are in a race to acquire sports streaming rights, which can be lucrative and potentially boost user loyalty. The deal comes at a time when leagues are worrying about cord-cutters causing a decrease in viewers among cable television networks. Verizon signed a deal with the NBA to stream eight basketball games on Yahoo, and Amazon paid $50m to stream NFL games to Prime members last season. The games will be produced by the MLB Network for Facebook Watch, with interactive and social elements that differentiate them from live streaming. Facebook’s first-month schedule includes Philadelphia-New York Mets on April 4, Milwaukee-St. Louis on April 11, Kansas City-Toronto on April 18 and Arizona-Philadelphia on April 26. Facebook had a package of 20 non-exclusive Friday night games last year that began in mid-May and used broadcast feeds from the participating teams.
"There's no way a week ago that I would have, because I would have thought it would have been deemed inappropriate, not right, that I was insulting the Muslim community," Gillies said.
"I'll be honest - I did angst over it today whether I should wear it, because I didn't want to be inappropriate or offend the Muslim community. But I know that they are so welcoming and accepting of it, and I know that a lot of women will wear it today because it just shows that we are united - the solidarity is there, the love and support is there."
Elsewhere, women across the country wore hijabs on an emotional day when the shocked nation came together to remember those killed.
Rafaela Stoakes, a 32-year-old mother of two, said wearing the Islamic head covering gave her an insight into what it means to stand out and feel part of the minority.
On Friday morning she covered all but a few locks of her dark chestnut-coloured hair in a loose red and white scarf, crossed neatly beneath her chin and tucked into a black hiking jacket.
She was one of many women embracing #HeadScarfforHarmony, to make a stand against the hate espoused by the Australian man who killed dozens of worshippers.
Headscarves were also worn as a mark of respect by policewomen and non-Muslim volunteers directing the crowds around the site in Christchurch holding communal prayers on Friday.
Many were wearing a headscarf for the first time.
"It is amazing how different I felt for the short time I was out this morning," Stoakes told AFP.
"There were a lot of confused looks and some slightly aggressive ones," she said.
"I did feel a sense of pride to honour my Muslim friends, but I also felt very vulnerable and alone as I was the only person wearing one."
"It must take a lot of courage to do this on a daily basis."
The gesture caught on nationwide -- in offices, schools and on the streets -- as well as at the ceremonies held in Christchurch to mark one week since the killings at the hands of a self-avowed white supremacist.
Women flooded Twitter, Facebook and other social media -- which played a key role in allowing the gunman to spread his message -- with their images.
Kate Mills Workman, a 19-year-old student from Wellington, posted a selfie on Twitter wearing a green headscarf.
"If I could I would be attending the mosque and standing outside to show my support for my Muslim whanau but I've got lectures and I can't really skip them," she told AFP, using a Maori language term for extended family.
"Obviously this is all spurred on by the terrible tragedy in Christchurch, but it's also a way of showing that any form of harassment or bigotry based on a symbol of religion is never okay," she added.
"As New Zealanders, we have to make a really strong stand."
Although the headscarf has been the subject of contentious debate over gender rights in the Islamic world, for Stoakes the day has been a lesson in how pious Muslim women often do not have the option to melt away into the background when they feel vulnerable.
"We can nod and pretend to agree with people who we are afraid of, or plead ignorance if we feel in danger of confrontation," she said.
"But a Muslim is just right out there. Like a bullseye. Their hijabs and clothing speak before they do."