As if Thursday Night Football needed another twist, the NFL has given us another one in how games will be streamed going forward.
Social media giant Twitter has won the bidding war to score a deal that will allow it to broadcast 10 TNF games online. The games Twitter streams will be the 10 broadcast by both the NFL and CBS or NBC. The six games the NFL Network has sole broadcast rights for will not be streamed via Twitter.
The NFL and Twitter will provide free, live streaming video of Thursday Night Football to the over 800 Million registered and non-registered users worldwide on the Twitter platform on mobile phones, tablets, PCs and connected TVs, the NFL announced this morning.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced the partnership with Twitter via what else? A Tweet!
"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", NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a press release. "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."
In addition to live streaming video of NFL action, the partnership includes in-game highlights from TNF as well as pre-game Periscope broadcasts from players and teams, giving fans an immersive experience before, during and after games.
According to Bloomberg.com, Yahoo! and Verizon were among the other bidders:
The social-media company was said to be bidding against a slate of heavyweights including Verizon Communications Inc., Yahoo! Inc. and Amazon.com Inc. Facebook Inc. dropped out of the bidding last week, according to a person with knowledge of the discussions who asked not to be named because the talks were private.
The deal gives Twitter a key piece of content to attract mainstream users in its quest to make its service a go-to place to react to and discuss live events. The NFL, aware that a growing number of households are comfortable streaming video over the Internet, is using the digital rights for Thursday night games to reach so-called cord-cutters, as former cable-TV subscribers are known.
Recently, the NFL has been auctioning off the rights to broadcast various NFL games and events. The league partnered with Yahoo.com to stream the Buffalo Bills vs Jacksonville Jaguars game from London’s Wembley Stadium on October 25, 2015. Per the NFL's press release, fans streamed over 480 million minutes of the game, with 33% of streams coming in internationally across 185 countries worldwide.
The NFL is also expected to make a deal for streaming the international portion of the schedule again this season with several entities bidding for this honor, though Facebook dropped out of the running after they once appeared to be the favorite in this bidding war.
As someone who uses Twitter frequently, I'm not exactly sure how this is going to work. Do we just sit back and watch a single tweet for 3.5 hours as it streams TNF games?
Or perhaps Twitter finds a way to have the game streaming in the background while you scroll through Twitter, but that probably wouldn't work on tiny phone screens.
I'll do my best to stick with the old-fashioned TV for enjoying NFL football. I just can't see this working out for Twitter as much as they're probably about to pay for the rights to TNF games that end up being some of the worst games on the NFL schedule.