The NFL’s streaming deal with Twitter earlier this month blew the minds of many across the sports landscape. The NFL? Streaming games live on…Twitter? It seemed incomprehensible. But if Twitter CFO Anthony Noto is to be believed, Twitter isn’t going to stop at the NFL, and wants to create similar partnerships with other sports leagues, and possibly their network partners as well. Via re/code…
Noto wouldn’t name names but said Twitter is in active talks with “the most important and popular” sports leagues in the world in the hope of gathering more streaming rights.
“We’re not just talking to the leagues, we’re also talking to the broadcast partners of the leagues and the cable network partners of the leagues,” he said.
This is interesting, because the streaming rights for all of these sports leagues are typically included in the television contract. For instance, all of ESPN’s MLB and NBA games can be viewed on WatchESPN, all of NBC’s Premier League and NHL games can be viewed through NBC Live Extra, and all of Fox’s NFL and college football games can be viewed through Fox Sports Go. The catch is, you need a cable login through a participating provider to stream any of these games.
“A significant percentage of our audience is 18- to 24-year-olds and 18- to 34-year-olds, and those are the cohorts that have never signed up for pay television or are deciding not to continue with pay television,” Noto explained. “We want to be their digital distribution arm to a younger mobile, global audience.”
If all you needed was a Twitter account to watch one of these games live, it would obviously be a huge benefit for those who have cut the cord while also giving the leagues a little more money…but what would the benefit be for the networks? Would Twitter only have the ability to stream select games? For instance, if Twitter, MLB, and ESPN cut a deal, would only say, Sunday Night Baseball be available?
The Thursday Night Football package was a rare case where the streaming rights were sold separately from the TV rights. With the Big Ten’s TV rights currently being shopped, could that be a target for Twitter? It’s going to be very interesting to see what ends up happening here, both in terms of Twitter’s execution of the NFL streaming and what that leads to in the future for Twitter and the streaming of sports in general.