You can watch NFL games in many different ways. But as of 2016 there will be a brand new way to watch. To everyone’s surprise the unlikely winner of the bidding process to show Thursday Night Football was Twitter. They have become the first social media site to attempt live streaming on this scale and have even promised there will be pre and post-game shows.
Twitter won the rights to the games in a bidding process reportedly involving Amazon, Verizon, and even Facebook. Twitter secured the rights for $10m and with their being ten games as part of the deal, they will be paying $1m for each match. The rights are not solely exclusive to Twitter as CBS will stream the games to subscribers, but for Twitter it is a huge coup. It is reported that they were not even the highest bidder on the table. In a rare move away from his dollar signed eyes, Commissioner Roger Goodell viewed the possibilities of twitter as too good to turn down. “Twitter is where live events unfold and is the right partner for the NFL,” said NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. “There is also a massive amount of NFL-related conversation happening on Twitter during our games,”.
Twitter are not hoping for revenue or increasing advertising on the site but new users. The company has been struggling since becoming a public company. Users are falling and with Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg looking into streaming too they needed to be first to this deal. Anthony Nota is the financial officer for Twitter and was part of the bidding team. He is also known as holding the same position for the NFL under Goodell and was believed to be a big instigator in Twitter winning the rights. Twitter COO Adam Bain says the deal “continues our strategy to build world’s best daily connected audience that watches together & can talk w one another in real-time.”
The most important thing for us as NFL fans though, is what is this new product? Twitter have said there will be live streaming of the entire match while also a pre-game show and post-match analysis. Even more excitingly for us is the option for Periscope to be used. The live streaming app which was bought for $55m two years ago is being contemplated as a way to stream exclusive behind the scenes footage! Could we get to see Gatorade being chucked around at half-time? There is also a lot to be excited for about how the games will sit in the Twitter site. I expect they will create a new format specifically for the games, and with Goodell looking forward to the link of tweeting while watching the game, this will be incorporated somehow. How they do this will be pivotal if it will be considered a success. No doubt Twitter will get new users because of this, but can they keep them with engaging content? Brian Michaels of sports tipping site Bookmakers TV believes it is worth it “This could be an opportunity for more people to watch NFL or even people who have never considered watching it. Here in the UK it is a burgeoning sport with 4 NFL games every season in Wembley, so more access and especially a chance for a younger crowd to engage is only a good thing for the Sport”.
Even if it is a disaster do not fear sports fans. If you want to watch NFL in a more progressive way like this in the future, it is reported that Mark Zuckerberg is obsessed with live streaming. Facebook pulled out of the bidding for Thursday Night football for unknown reasons, but it is highly probable that they are just waiting in the shadows ready to pounce if Twitter fumble.