Ironman race events will continue to swim, bike and run to their exclusive digital home on Facebook Watch following a multiyear extension of the agreement between Ironman parent Wanda Sports Holdings and the social network.
Facebook Watch will be the exclusive digital home for 17 live events this year, 19 in 2020 and 22 in 2021 under a third-year option in the pact, and full live coverage of the Ironman World Championship and Ironman 70.3 World Championship is included.
There will also be video-on-demand recaps available for all events livestreamed via Facebook Watch.
The schedule will be announced in the coming weeks, and all of the event broadcasts will be available globally via the Ironman Now Facebook page.
Ironman will produce the livestreams specifically for Facebook Watch, incorporating interactive features such as Watch Parties, real-time polls, fan discussions and user-generated content from spectators along the course.
Broadcasts will be hosted by past event champions including Dede Griesbauer, Rachel Joyce, Matt Lieto and Michael Lovato, as well as past World Champions and Hall of Famers Paula Newby Fraser and Greg Welch.
More than 3.5 million people watched at least one minute of an Ironman live broadcast on Facebook Watch in 2018, and content posted on the Ironman Now page tallied some 4.5 million engagements.
Facebook Watch carried over 20 hours of live Ironman coverage last year, “including everything from the early morning body marking to the final hour finish line celebration.”
Facebook North America sports programming lead Devi Mahadevia said in a release detailing the deal, “Participatory sports are a great fit for Facebook Watch because they’re highly communal with established and engaged fan bases on our platform. Ironman is a perfect example, so we’re thrilled to build on the success of our 2018 partnership by teaming again to bring fans around the world full-length coverage of the competition’s top events.”
Ironman chief revenue officer Matthieu van Veen added, “The partnership with Facebook has given us the unique ability to showcase our sport to a global audience while taking them inside the inner workings of race day. With events on every continent and in more than 50 countries, we continuously strive to provide our athletes, fans and sponsors with content and platforms to connect. Facebook Watch provides the most innovative tools to allow our community to interact and engage throughout the 10 hours of live coverage for each of the events. The numbers from our Facebook Watch programming in 2018 are astounding and illustrate the deep interest and reach of our world-class events. We look forward to our continued work with Facebook in bringing a truly global schedule of live event coverage to our broadening community.”