Twitter has just made a major play in transforming the future of its social media platform and sports by signing the right to live stream NFL Thursday night football games on the service.
The deal to bring the National Football League to Twitter will help attract new users to the platform that has been stalling in growth, with 10 games signed up for the 2016 season. It is understood Twitter beat out competition from the likes of Amazon, Verizon, Yahoo and Facebook in the bidding process with a rumoured price of around $10m (£7m, €8m) for all 10 games.
With audiences looking for new ways to cut costs this will be an ideal experiment to see how it could shape the future of how we watch live sporting events and interact with them. Notably, Twitter will also broadcast pre-game Periscope content and users will be able to comment on the action as it happens, making the experience more social. With football fans wanting to catch the games it could see a surge in new users worldwide and as a result its shares rose by 2.4% , according to Bloomberg. Nielsen claims 199 million people tuned into regular season NFL games in 2015 so it could see a significant increase in numbers.
For those who like to keep things traditional the games will still be able to be viewed on television, but with the NFL broadcast contracts due to end in 2021 we could see a lot more digital platforms offering live streams as the sport looks beyond traditional means to reach viewers. Yahoo successfully streamed a regular season NFL game held in London for free for the first time back in 2015 when the Buffalo Bills took on the Jacksonville Jaguars.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell confirmed the announcement on his Twitter feed, however which games exactly will be shown will likely to be confirmed once the 2016 season schedule is announced later in the year.
"Twitter is where live events unfold and is the right partner for the NFL as we take the latest step in serving fans around the world live NFL football", said Goodell. "There is a massive amount of NFL-related conversation happening on Twitter during our games and tapping into that audience, in addition to our viewers on broadcast and cable, will ensure Thursday Night Football is seen on an unprecedented number of platforms this season."