Breaking down all of Twitter’s sports streaming rights deals
Read about the latest sports tech news, innovations, ideas and products that impact players, fans and the sports industry overall at SportTechie.com.
Over the last few weeks Twitter has made an array of live steaming deals across a wide range of sports and leagues. The social media giant has secured streaming deals with all four major North American sports leagues—NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL—and the Pac-12 Conference. And they managed to do so in an extremely short amount of time.
We’ve covered Twitter’s rapid entry into the world of live streaming but felt it necessary to fit all of their recent moves into one article.
In early April Twitter secured a relatively cheep one-year, $10 million deal with the NFL. They will live stream 10 Thursday Night Football games during the 2016 season. The live stream coverage will be available for free to a global audience. NBC, CBS and NFL Network will provide the game coverage, but Twitter users do not need to be subscribers in order to watch the games. The television networks will still broadcast and digitally stream all of the Thursday Night games themselves.
Twitter landed the deal after they won a bidding war for the live streaming rights. They have already reportedly secured a large amount of advertising revenue for their TNF streams.
In a purposefully under-sold fashion, Twitter live streamed Wimbledon matches at this year’s recently-concluded Championships. With the help of ESPN, Twitter conducted their first ever live streams for a sporting event. The streams were rarely live, and the quality was not the best. But it was their first real test that provided the company a much needed tune-up before their massively important streaming deals begin this fall.
The Pac-12 is a collegiate athletics powerhouse. Twitter recently partnered with the conference to live stream over 150 sporting events during the 2016-2017 academic year. The conference’s broadcast partner, Pac-12 Plus will provide the broadcasts. The streaming rights do not include the biggest and most profitable collegiate sport, football. However, the deal includes the rights to pretty much every other Division I sport the conference offers including volleyball, baseball, soccer and track & field.
They also just formed a partnership with Campus Insiders and the ACC Digital Network. Twitter will live stream over 300 sporting events from the Mountain West Conference, West Coast Conference and the Patriot League. The deal also includes streaming video, highlights and breaking news all of which will be provided by Campus Insiders and ACC Digital Network. This partnership is vital because it secures the streaming of college football on Twitter from the Mountain West Conference, the West Coast Conference and the Patriot League.
Twitter also recently landed a live streaming deal with the NBA. The biggest basketball league in the world is also the most popular sports league on Twitter. The deal starts in October, before the 2016-17 season tips off. It does not included live streaming games. It centers on yet another first for the struggling social media platform, live original programming. The NBA will produce two new shoulder programs exclusively for Twitter. One will be a weekly pre-game show, the second hasn’t been announced. The new deal also doubles the number of official NBA highlights that will appear on the app, as well as on Twitter-owned Vine and Periscope.
MLB and NHL
Twitter’s deal with MLB and the NHL rounds out their foray into the live streaming sports market for now. They secured the rights to stream broadcasts of out-of-market games for both leagues beginning as early as this fall. The social media giant will stream one game from each league every week. The official schedule hasn’t been determined, but it will not include any nationally televised or playoff games. The digital sports network, 120 Sports will also produce a Twitter-only highlight and analysis show called “The Rally” as part of the deal as well.
As of today, Twitter announced a deal with Sky Sports to stream Premier League highlights and goals for the upcoming 2016-17 season. Fans on Twitter and Sky Sports Ireland subscribers will additionally be allowed to view video content in real time for Saturday 3 p.m. games, which are typically not televised.
The social media giant has run into a period of very slow growth in terms of new-user generation. Their stock price has suffered accordingly. Twitter is hoping to use the community aspect of the social media platform to its advantage. The fan engagement on Twitter is often an integral part of the conversation surrounding a particular sporting event these days. Now, the platform that generates and shapes so much of the live sports discussion has the rights to live stream a small portion of those same events.
All of these deals are not created equal. Some will prove to be much more valuable for Twitter in the long run. But, this small window of time in 2016 might one day mark the start of a paradigm shift in how live sports are consumed.