Twitter Shocks Industry By Securing Streaming For NFL Games

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By James DeRuvo (doddleNEWS)

With Amazon and Verizon the top two streaming companies vying for exclusive worldwide rights to Thursday Night Football, the NFL decided to award the franchise to… TWITTER?

“This is about driving incremental consumption,” said Brian Rolapp, the NFL executive of media

Clearly, Twitter is getting a steal of a deal. But again, how? Well, it’s likely that the answer is volume. Twitter is worldwide with an estimated number of registered users believed to be 1.3 billion, according to DMR, and over 320 million active users with an average follower base of over 200 each. Twitter only sold the deal on a fraction of that, claiming registered users of only 800 million as of the fourth quarter of 2015 (probably a wise move, since studies show that 1 in 10 Twitter accounts are fake).

Dallas-Cowboys-v.-Miami-Dolphins-2015-NFL-SeasonIf you’re watching a live stream of the NFL and it would likely be tweeted that you are, it’s like you just told 200 of your closest friends to join in.  Also, Twitter will be able to sell their own share of ads for the rebroadcast of the games on CBS and NBC through their stream, even though both networks will also be streaming the games live through their own website portals and apps.

The bottom line here is that the NFL managed to skirt any claim of exclusivity and resell the package to Twitter for worldwide distribution. As for Verizon, it’s easy to see why they didn’t get it … they’re too exclusive, chances are they’d only stream it to their own wireless customers. But I’m still scratching my head over why Amazon didn’t get the deal, unless they wanted a larger piece of the pie and the NFL wasn’t willing to go that far.

But there’s another ace in the hole that gave the deal to Twitter. Twitter CFO Anthony Noto had the same gig for the NFL back in the day, so having such an intimate knowledge of how the NFL does business, gave Noto the leg up in crafting a package that would appeal to his old boss’ interest in reaching a younger, worldwide audience.

“We have a young-skewing audience, and they’re obviously mobile,” Noto told Re/code. Soto says that having the NFL streaming on Twitter will serve to help users stick around and even raise their cache with fans who have gotten out of the habit of checking their account. “This is a great, great product for logged-out users,” he said.

And he may be onto something. Already Twitter has made a crafty deal with GoPro to stream through the Twitter’s social streaming app Periscope, and that feature was showcased at last February’s X Games Aspen. Now users who love to live stream what they do can merge their action cameras and broadcast a better image to the world. So building on that growing base of people already enjoying the live streaming capability that Twitter offers, the social media company hopes that bringing in the NFL will send a growing and resurrected membership off the charts.

Here’s hoping they’re building up their bandwidth.

About James DeRuvo

James has a multi-faceted career that spans radio, film and publishing. A writer about the technology in the video industry for nearly 20 years, James is also an award winning film director, having garnered a Telly Award for his short film Searching for Inspiration. He's also worked as a producer of many talk radio programs in Los Angeles with topics ranging from entertainment to travel to technology.

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