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Twitter wins NFL Thursday night streaming rights

Twitter has won a deal to stream Thursday night National Football League (NFL) games online, according to report from Bloomberg.

The social network reportedly outbid rivals including Verizon, Amazon and Yahoo to host the football games. Facebook was also poised to make an offer as part of it's ongoing foray into sports broadcasting, but it apparently dropped out of proceedings last week.

Live videos will be streamed lived of Thursday Night Football without authentication to the over 800 million registered and non-registered users worldwide of the social network. The partnership also includes in-game highlights as well as pre-game Periscope posts from players and teams, giving fans an additional view of the pre and post-match buildup.

Twitter and the NFL have been working together since 2013 through the Amplify program. Back in February, the league announced that NBC and CBS had purchased the TV rights to the Thursday night matches, igniting a battle between the internet heavyweights for the global streaming rights.

"This is about transforming the fan experience with football. People watch NFL games with Twitter today," said Jack Dorsey, Twitter's chief executive. "Now they'll be able to watch right on Twitter Thursday nights."

The successful bid could help Twitter widen its user base, something it's been struggling with for some time, and comes as the platform looks to position itself as the go-to place for live events – slotting in nicely with its curated Moments service and livestreaming arm, Periscope.

“Twitter is where live events unfold and is the right partner for the NFL as we take the latest step in serving fans around the world live NFL football”, said NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.

“There is a massive amount of NFL-related conversation happening on Twitter during our games and tapping into that audience, in addition to our viewers on broadcast and cable, will ensure Thursday Night Football is seen on an unprecedented number of platforms this season. This agreement also provides additional reach for those brands advertising with our broadcast partners."

Gareth Capon, chief executive of Twitter partner Grabyo, which produces and distributes real-time social video on the platform, said: "Social video is evolving, fast. Major rights holders recognise that they need to deliver content to fans in the most convenient way possible - increasingly this means video on social platforms.

"Twitter’s landmark deal with the NFL means social video has moved on from short clips and instant highlights to live-streaming of major events and rights properties. Social video is beginning to look more like TV..."

Toward the end of 2015, Yahoo became the first digital outlet to stream an NFL game, stumping up a reported $20m for the privilege and attracting some 15.2 million viewers in the process according to the NFL.

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Rebecca Stewart

Rebecca Stewart is a reporter at The Drum with a remit to cover the latest developments in social media marketing and wider industry news. Based in Glasgow, she has interviewed key figures from brands like Airbnb, Amnesty International, Facebook and Spotify. She has covered international events in Berlin and Amsterdam, as well as Advertising Week Europe.

All by Rebecca