Twitter has emerged as the unlikely winning bidder of NFL Thursday night streaming rights, beating out Verizon (NYSE: VZ), as well as digital rivals including Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN), Yahoo and Facebook (NASDAQ: FB).
Neither the league nor the social media company would disclose how much Twitter is paying. But the platform's price to live-stream 10 regular-season NFL games next season is reportedly below $10 million. This is compared to the $450 million CBS Corp. and NBCUniversal are collectively paying to broadcast the same 10 games.
Twitter is getting a narrow section of rights. It will be basically live-streaming the same feed that's shown on whichever broadcast network has the game. And it will have only a small inventory of advertising to sell, with the networks commanding the lion's share. Verizon has all mobile rights.
However, as it struggles to stay relevant with its 10th birthday approaching, Twitter is getting live-streaming access to the kind of water-cooler event that's typically discussed in its forum. It's a splashy way to drive usage.
"This should be favorable for Twitter in terms of creating a product that will encourage people to show up and use it," said Brian Wieser, an analyst at Pivotal Research Group, to Bloomberg. "Twitter has placed a lot of emphasis around its relevance to live activities. They haven't invested what presumably will be a lot of money in owning the rights to this sort of activity in quite some time. It probably will help them with user growth numbers."
The National Football League, meanwhile, has yet another incremental revenue stream, as well as another platform to gain understanding about digital audiences.
"This is about driving incremental consumption," Brian Rolapp, the NFL executive who oversees the league's media deals and operations, told Re/code.
The deal, of course, adds yet one more destination outside the pay-TV ecosystem on which consumers can see TV's most coveted live events.
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