There’s been plenty of talk about Twitter’s moves into streaming sports content 24/7, but much of that discussion has focused on the live sports (MLB, Conference USA, the WNBA, the NWHL). It’s notable that they’re boosting their sports studio content as well, particularly with Stadium (the successor to 120 Sports/Campus Insiders/American Sports Network)’s planned nightly “The Rally” (an hour-long show with highlights, news and cut-ins) and daily half-hour NFL show. And now, Twitter has struck a deal with SB Nation to stream Ariel Helwani’s popular The MMA Hour. Here’s more on that from SB Nation parent Vox Media’s release:
SB Nation’s The MMA Hour, the weekly live show hosted by award-winning MMA journalist Ariel Helwani, and Twitter today announced that the show will stream live on Twitter for the first time beginning June 26. The MMA Hour will premiere exclusive extended segments, available only on Twitter, for host Ariel Helwani to take and answer questions from the Twitter audience.
The live stream will be available for free to logged-in and logged-out users on Twitter and connected devices globally. Fans will be able to access the live stream at TheMMAHour.twitter.com or on @MMAFighting.
“The MMA Hour is the gold standard show and destination when it comes to mixed martial arts,” said Kevin Lockland, General Manager of SB Nation. “As our longest running show which, despite its name, is actually 4 – 5 hours of in depth MMA news and analysis, brought directly to fans by Ariel Helwani, the sport’s premier MMA journalist. We’re excited to bring this deep expertise to MMA fans on Twitter, and introduce the obsession to new audiences.”
The MMA Hour airs live each Monday at 1pm ET, and is the only comprehensive live stream that legions of fans depend on each week for the latest reviews of results, dissection of upcoming fights, breaking news and analysis, and interviews with the hottest fighters and figures in combat sports, including recent guests Conor McGregor, Ronda Rousey, the Diaz Brothers, Anderson Silva, George St-Pierre, Mike Tyson, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, and CM Punk, as well as every UFC Champion over the past eight years.
Helwani has definitely impressed with his MMA coverage over the years, and has broken plenty of stories, even when the powers-that-be don’t want them told (which led to his lifetime ban from UFC events last year, which was then overturned a couple of days later). That likely played a role in the recent formation of a MMA reporters’ professional association (the MMAJA, where Helwani is vice-president). He’s a key figure in covering mixed martial arts, and his Monday show has been a big part of that.
This move seems to make some sense for both SB Nation and Twitter. It’s a further audience for the show, and possibly with some extra revenue as well, while it gives Twitter an already-prominent studio show, and one that already has its technology and host in place. It also expands Twitter’s sports brand into MMA, which seems like a logical fit given that the MMA audience tends to lean young and tech-savvy, similar to Twitter’s own audience. We’ll see how this goes, and if Twitter keeps adding more sports studio shows.