Twitter signs deal with NFL to live stream Thursday Night Football

In a flurry of news this morning, it would appear that Twitter has won a deal with the NFL that gives the social network the right to stream Thursday Night Football live on the platform.

Beyond the live stream of the game, the partnership will also include pre-game Periscope broadcasts from players and teams, as well as in-game highlights from TNF.

Bloomberg first reported the news this morning based on sources familiar with the matter. A few minutes later, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell tweeted a confirmation, with the NFL posting this official announcement.

Bloomberg reports that Twitter beat out other major players in the tech space, including Verizon (which owns Aol, which owns TechCrunch), Yahoo, Amazon, and Facebook.

Re/Code’s Peter Kafta is also reporting that Twitter paid only $10 million for these streaming rights, beating out larger offers from other players, as high as $15 million.

Given Twitter’s slowing growth numbers — the company has plateaued at around 300 million active users — this deal could be a huge boost for the platform. Putting aside its slower growth than networks like Facebook, Twitter is best when paired with live TV. It’s the fine Cabernet to a medium-rare filet mignon.

With the new deal, Twitter can likely see more engagement out of fans who never really cared for Twitter, but came to the platform for some Thursday Night Football.

This is also an important move for the NFL, which has long been the stronghold of cable television. As more and more users cut the cords, the NFL is having to think beyond the cable model to reach as many viewers as possible.

But if you’re a cable kid with a football package, have no fear. The big game will still be available on television and on other parts of the web.

Specifically, Twitter won the global streaming rights to 10 games of the 16 TNF games to air this season. That means that the games will still air on CBS, NBC, and the NFL Network, as well as their respective web sites. That said, (and the others) will only have the right to stream domestically and not worldwide.

This seems to be an important piece to pay attention to given the relatively low price of the deal. Remember, CBS and NBC are paying around $450 million (combined) to air TNF for the season. Twitter’s bid pales in comparison.

Part of the reason for the low price is that CBS and NBC get to keep their digital advertising inventory for the games, since Twitter will just be re-broadcasting the networks’ feeds. The other reason Twitter might have gotten away with just $10 million, if that number is correct, is that Twitter says it has a rather large global audience.

Even though the company only has 320 million active users, it also argues that it has a global audience of up to 800 million when you include folks who visit the service but don’t sign in.

Here’s what Jack Dorsey had to say:

This is about transforming the fan experience with football. People watch NFL games with Twitter today. Now they’ll be able to watch right on Twitter Thursday nights.

He’s also excited for his dad.

All in all, it’s an interesting way to start the 2016 NFL season.

Featured Image: EKS/Shutterstock

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