Why Twitter and the NFL Are Working Together to Livestream Games

Full length games will come to the social network this fall.

by Nicholas Deleon
Apr 5 2016, 1:19pm

Image: Keith Allison/Flickr

Starting this fall, to watch Thursday night NFL games all you'll need is Twitter.

The NFL said Tuesday morning that it had reached a deal with Twitter to livestream Thursday night games on the social network. It's the first time a major sports league has agreed to livestream full games on a social network.

Bloomberg reported the news shortly before NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell tweeted the above, immediately sending Twitter's stock up more than 3 percent in pre-market trading. Goodell, interestingly enough, was not an active Twitter user before tweeting the announcement, having last tweeted in September 2014.

Several other companies, including Yahoo (which has livestreamed NFL games in the past) and Amazon, had also reportedly bid for the rights.

The benefits for Twitter, the NFL, and everyday fans are clear. Twitter, which has stopped growing (and has subsequently resorted to product tweaks like a timeline that automatically surfaces tweets it thinks people will find interesting enough to keep visiting), gets to attract a more mainstream audience to its platform.

The NFL, meanwhile, gets more exposure to fans who've cut the cord—crucial as the next generation of "cord nevers," or people who've never subscribed to cable in the first place, become more numerous. Twitter's global audience of 320 million active users could also give the NFL more of a presence outside of the US, which is a clear priority for the league.

While no financial details were released, the NFL noted on Tuesday morning that the games will be broadcast on Twitter via its mobile and desktop apps—opening up the possibility of casting a Twitter tab using Google Chromecast to your big screen TV. The NFL will also use Periscope, the Twitter-owned livestreaming app, to broadcast "immersive" live video from players and teams.