LOS ANGELES (CBSLA/AP) – Major League Baseball is returning to Facebook this season in a historic way.

The social media giant unveiled a deal Friday with MLB in which it will exclusively stream 25 regular-season games during the 2018 season. The deal was unanimously approved by all the clubs.

It is valued at between $30 and $35 million, according to Bloomberg.

While Facebook has streamed MLB games in the past, this is the company’s first exclusive deal and the MLB’s first digital-only national broadcast program. Last year, Facebook showed 20 Friday games using broadcast feeds from the participating teams.

The games will stream on Facebook Watch via its MLB Live page. All of them will be weekday afternoon games.

The first game streamed in the package will take place Wednesday, April 4, when the Philadelphia Phillies visit the New York Mets.

“Community and conversation are central to both baseball and Facebook, and MLB Network’s innovative broadcasts will bring these interactive and social elements of the game to life to fans around the world in new ways on our platform,” said Dan Reed, Facebook Head of Global Sports Partnerships.

Last year, Facebook reached a deal with Fox Sports to livestream more than 12 UEFA Champions League soccer matches for the 2017-18 season.

U.S. professional sports leagues have been slowly wading into the digital streaming arena as more viewers cut the cord and move away from traditional cable providers.

In January, the expansion Los Angeles Football Club — which will make its debut this season in Major League Soccer — reached a multi-year broadcasting agreement with YouTube TV for local broadcast rights.

In 2015, the NFL gave Yahoo the rights to stream a London regular season game for $15 million. Amazon paid $50 million last year to stream NFL games to Prime members last season.

Verizon also signed a deal with the NBA to stream eight basketball games on Yahoo.

(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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