NFL & Twitter in exclusive $10mn deal to show Thursday night games free on social media

© Brian Snyder
The National Football League has signed a deal to make social media platform Twitter its exclusive global partner for streaming Thursday night games during the 2016 season.

This will see Twitter users able to stream 10 midweek games for free on the site with no need for a subscription, meaning people all over the world will be able to access the feed.

The tendering process saw Twitter beat Verizon, Amazon and Yahoo to the rights, which will be a major boost to the company.

The social media platform has 300 million users but is trailing the likes of Facebook and Instagram in popularity, with question marks over how to increase usage further and monetize content.

Although the financial details of the deal have been kept under wraps, it has been touted that Twitter paid around $10 million for the agreement.

This is significantly less than NBC paid to show single games in the 2016 and 2017 seasons, while Yahoo paid $15 million for streaming rights to just one game that was played in London.

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"We did not take the highest bidder on the table," NFL executive vice president of media Brian Rolapp said.

"The platform is built around live events already. We want to see how they use the unique platform, and syndicated tweets all over the internet is going to be interesting." 

The bond between Twitter and the NFL has been boosted by Anthony Noto, who is currently employed as chief financial officer by Twitter, but previously served in the same role at the NFL.

This new deal has been put in place as more and more people stream sport over the internet rather than watch it on pay-per-view television.

It will also allow websites to embed video tweets and hence increase viewership.

Noto said it would revolutionize the way sport was consumed, with scope for more video deals with other sports or events.

"This is one element of a much broader strategy to provide the next generation of real-time content," he said.

Twitter will now also have the ability to host in-game highlights from the Thursday night games, while its live streaming app Periscope will have pre-game broadcasts.

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It is believed that the streaming deal will also change the way sport is consumed, with live feeds of relevant tweets accompanying the action and it becoming a more interactive experience.

The NFL is America's most-popular sport by some margin, with Thursday night games attracting about 17 million television viewers last season.

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