On April 5, the NFL announced that Twitter obtained the global rights to stream ten Thursday night games, the rights for which the San Francisco-based company purchased for $10 million dollars.
That seems like a monetary extra point by NFL media rights standards. NBC and CBS are paying the NFL $225 million for five Thursday night games apiece. NBC has additional Thursday games -- the season kickoff and Thanksgiving Day -- as part of its Sunday night presentation, which deposits an additional $1 billion dollars into the NFL treasury.
There were higher bidders for this package, but the NFL decision was clearly driven by Twitter's 320 million accounts that sign in to their site at least once a month. Last year the NFL and Twitter agreed to a two year deal to distribute highlights.
Twitter will stream those ten Thursday games broadcast by NBC, CBS and simulcasted on the NFL Network in a precedent-setting deal. The games will be seen on over-the-air, cable and digital platforms.
Twitter will be able to run in-game highlights and pregame broadcasts from players and teams on Periscope -- their live streaming application. Having a one-year deal gives the NFL and Twitter maximum flexibility to create a beta test environment to set the stage for future deals. The structure will allow Twitter to lure more users to its service through the massive popularity of the NFL’s live content. Details of what this product will actually look like for Twitter end users are still being worked out.
The NFL is a media-rich property that is constantly adding to its bottom line. The NFL media pie has more slices than a national pizza chain and the power of football gives them the flexibility to partner with numerous media providers...
NFL MEDIA PARTNERS
Fox & ESPN Deportes
Multiple individual country's broadcast outlets
Last season, Yahoo paid $20 million dollars to live stream the game between the Buffalo Bills and Jacksonville Jaguars from London on October 25. Yahoo paid for exclusive rights for the game including advertising inventory. The NFL’s global strategy versus other professional sports is a bit limited based on the lack of football infrastructure in Europe, South America and Asia, where football is played with feet.
The NFL’s growing relationship with Twitter and other digital partners exemplify a focus on creating and growing new channels of product delivery. It brings up the issue of whether the league is looking at ways to play, broadcast and digitize football seven days a week in the future.
There is no better way to “go viral” than through the long arm of NFL players, coaches, fans and the media. The Twitterverse is a perfect home for the good, bad and ugly of human behavior that sports often displays in bite-sized chunks.
A one-year deal between the two powerhouses -- NFL and Twitter -- shows nimbleness, agility and changeability based on instantaneous user feedback.
- It appeals to the younger demographic, which has a nano-second attention span and is critical to continued NFL brand building.
- Group connectivity is disappearing from a number of stadiums, but growing through mobile connectivity.
- The League's major broadcast deals will come up for negotiation at the end of this decade.
Will we be seeing a new wave of multi-billion dollar rights fees coming from non-traditional entities such as telecommunications companies, web giants or entities yet to be created? Is the NFL going bigger by focusing on being smaller?
Looking at any number of mobile devices, I can’t help but see them as miniature football fields. No matter how humongous the flat screens on walls will become, everyone carries at least one of these mobile football venues of the future.