Do you ever wonder who watches shows like First Take or Undisputed? Like, you ever look up at the TV in the dentist’s office or at the gym and wonder who actually goes out of their way to watch this? Who wants to interact with that kind of content?
Today’s tech giants are wondering the same thing. Only instead of deciding to run away, it looks like they want a piece of that argumentative action, as well as a lot of the rest of the sports slate.
Twitter announced Monday that they had secured a series of new and expanded deals with various entertainment, news, and sports content partners as their Digital Content NewFronts presentation. It’s a veritable who’s who of major media companies and pro sports leagues who want a piece of that social media content action just as much as Twitter wants to align with them. These new deals also join previously announced ones that the social media giant had made with the NBA, MLB, PGA Tour, BuzzFeed News, Fox Sports, Bill Simmons’ The Ringer, CNN, Marvel, and the Drone Racing League.
Some of the new deal partners include Viacom (the “VMA Stan Cam” during MTV’s Video Music Awards), Live Nation (concert and festival series exclusively on Twitter), Blizzard Entertainment (BlizzCon 2019 gaming convention footage), The Wall Street Journal (daily “WSJ What’s Now” analysis), and Time (exclusive content around franchises like Person of the Year and Time 100).
A large cross-section of the new partners are sports-centric, in what looks like an attempt to see just how much people want to watch sporting events and footage on Twitter and perhaps interact with that content.
ESPN will be launching ESPN Onsite, a “brand extension of the sports broadcaster’s live shows such as The College Football Show, Hoop Streams, Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show, and MLS Countdown Live.” ESPN will also add Onsite branding on Twitter.
The NFL extended their partnership with Twitter, which includes video highlights, breaking news, and analysis as well as new live shows around NFL tentpole events such as the NFL Draft.
MLS is also signing an extension on their deal, which includes providing highlights and live matches in English. MLS will also post every single goal scored on Twitter.
The Players’ Tribune is offering up the most curious partnership offering. They’re going to be launching Don’t @ Me, “an interactive live broadcast featuring two athletes debating every “greatest of all time” topic under the sun, featuring notable comments from Twitter users and fan voting to determine the winner of the debates.” That sounds…like a thing.
Bleacher Report is also re-upping with Twitter and bringing House of Highlights back for a second season. This highlight show pairs athletes and celebs with host Omar Raja.
Finally, as part of a larger deal, Univision will be posting select soccer highlights from Liga MX and UEFA Champions League on Twitter.
As always, the question isn’t why these brands would want to be involved with Twitter, but will anyone really watch and interact with all this content? There are so many ways to consume most of this sports content, it’s a question as to whether or not people will turn to Twitter for their first-look or care enough to dig into highlights and complimentary shows. Just like with the debate shows on ESPN and Fox, is there a large market for something like Don’t @ Me? We’ll certainly find out.
As for Twitter, they’re fine with letting all of these brands get involved and then duke it out for eyeballs. It makes them look like a strong player in the online content and brand realm and if any of these deals fail to muster much attention, the blame is likely to go towards the content and not the platform. Plus, Twitter is likely looking five or ten years down the road when the market has really shifted and online platforms like them, Facebook, and Amazon are major players in the world of sports content, including live programming.