Thursday Night Football won’t be streamed through CBS or NBC, the rightsholders for the television broadcasts of the games during the 2016 season. No, TNF will be streamed through…Twitter? Bloomberg first reported the news on Tuesday morning, and it was later confirmed by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on, naturally, Twitter.
— Roger Goodell (@nflcommish) April 5, 2016
It was Goodell’s first tweet since September 5, 2014 – you know, just a couple of days before TMZ released the Ray Rice elevator video.
The NFL and Twitter aren’t strangers – back in 2013, the two entities linked up for a highlight deal, something the NFL noted in its official release about the agreement. The NFL also mentioned that, most importantly, the streaming of the games will not require authentication.
Partners since 2013 through the Twitter Amplify program, the NFL and Twitter will provide free, live streaming video of Thursday Night Football without authentication to the over 800 Million registered and non-registered users worldwide on the Twitter platform on mobile phones, tablets, PCs and connected TVs.
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.
Only the ten games that will be aired by CBS and NBC are covered in this live streaming deal – the remaining eight games on NFL Network were not up for grabs. Twitter didn’t appear to be one of the frontrunners for the rights just a couple of months ago, as Yahoo, Verizon, and AT&T were mentioned as leading the race.
There’s no immediate word on how much Twitter is shelling out for the rights or for how long the pact is (though one can assume it’s only for the 2016 season, based on the verbiage of the NFL’s release). Yahoo paid $17 million to stream just one Jaguars-Bills game from London last year, and CBS and NBC will be paying $45 million per game for the Thursday Night Football TV rights this year, So, split the difference and assume Twitter will be paying somewhere in the range of $250-$300 million for the streaming rights for the ten game package.
Details on how exactly Twitter will stream the games are still scarce, though Bloomberg surmises it’ll likely be through the new “moments” feature that people complain about more than they actually use.
Twitter would probably broadcast the games as a part of the six-month-old Moments feature, which could package a live event alongside commentary, behind-the-scenes tweets, and other content.
The last domino in regards to the NFL and media for the 2016 season has fallen – now we can just not worry about any of this stuff until next year! Twitter’s entrance into the NFL media landscape is a massive development, and we’ll know if this was a success or a failure in about eight months.