Twitter lost the deal to stream the NFL’s Thursday Night Football games this year to Amazon, but today the company is announcing a new multi-year agreement that will bring live football programming to its service. According to the NFL, Twitter will stream official NFL video and other content to fans year-round, including a new 30-minute live digital show that will air on Twitter five nights per week, during football season.
The show will be hosted by NFL Network talent and will focus on covering “breaking news, game highlights, key storylines, fantasy projections, team power rankings, pre-game updates,” and more, the organization says.
In addition, the live pre-game coverage will include Periscope broadcasts like play warm-ups and sideline interviews, designed to give football fans behind-the-scenes access to teams on game days.
This live footage will be augmented with NFL highlights, news and analysis, and historical content – the latter of which will take advantage of the popular social media hashtag, #TBT, or “Throwback Thursday.”
“We are very excited to offer football fans around the world even more content on Twitter from the NFL,” said Twitter COO Anthony Noto, in a statement about the new NFL deal. “This new multi-year collaboration will bring compelling live studio programs that discuss what’s happening in the NFL, unique behind-the-scenes live broadcasts before games, and the best NFL highlights to Twitter, alongside the real-time NFL conversation,” he added.
The new deal’s terms were not disclosed, but the expired deal for Thursday Night games had cost Twitter $10 million. Amazon’s new deal is much pricier – it’s reportedly valued around $50 million. Given there are no live games this time around, the new agreement is likely more affordable for Twitter.
The NFL and Twitter have been working together since 2013 through the Twitter Amplify program, and announced last year that Twitter would be the exclusive live streaming home to Thursday Night Football games during the Regular Season, reaching Twitter’s then 800 million users worldwide. The games were also broadcast by NBC, CBS, and the NFL Network, but Twitter’s platform gave the games an international reach.
However, Twitter’s reach compared with TV is still small. According to the NFL, the debut game had attracted over 2 million viewers on Twitter, but 48 million watched on TV. In addition, not everyone loved the experience of seeing live tweets alongside games, feeling like they could distract from the experience and weren’t always of high-quality.
The NFL’s new live programming for the digital network may not attract as many viewers, but the nature of the programming itself may be a better fit for the Twitter audience.
“Twitter continues to be an important partner in accessing millions of highly engaged fans on digital media,” said Brian Rolapp, chief media and business officer for the NFL, in a release. “We have every expectation that the new daily live show, produced by NFL Network and featuring some of our top analysts, will quickly become some of the most popular programming on Twitter.”