The United States’ most popular sport is coming to social media! Football fans in NYC or around the globe will be able to watch 10 Thursday Night Football games live on Twitter. All of Twitter’s 800 million users worldwide will be able to catch the action live for free.
Thursday Night Football had several social media suitors, but in the end Twitter won out. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell believes that Twitter had the right infrastructure and user base to make the most out of live-streaming Thursday Night Football.
“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. . .This agreement also provides additional reach for those brands advertising with our broadcast partners.”
The second part of Goodell’s statement is one that catches the eye. Most people see this agreement as an initiative to spread NFL’s brand to the massive Twitter audience. However, advertisers are the ones that are actually benefitting the most. The NFL is generally known as the most money-hungry and most ad-centered of the 4 major American sports. After all, the Super Bowl has the most expensive ads on television. This partnership isn’t just good for advertisers, it’s also mutually beneficial for both the NFL and Twitter. Here’s how.
How this is good for Twitter:
Twitter has been struggling recently. Humans are fickle creatures, and most earth-shattering websites end up falling by the wayside (see: MySpace, AOL, Excite). Twitter has struggled of late. In the past 12 months, Twitter’s stock has fallen more than $4 per share, which is close to a 20% decline. Additionally, Twitter has had their fair share of controversies, including how they have handled directed hate and free speech issues on their platform.
The days when Twitter was seen as the best tool for free speech and a platform to enact social change seem to be in the rear view mirror. Twitter has noticed this and they are attempted to branch out in order to expand and retain their userbase. By partnering with the NFL to broadcast Thursday Night Football, Twitter hopes to become the home for live-streaming sports on social media. It’s entirely possible that in the future Twitter will live-stream Baseball, Basketball, Hockey, and Soccer.
How this is good for the NFL:
The NFL has a reputation for always pursuing further brand exposure. In the past, the NFL has flirted with a team based in Canada, or even the UK, where the NFL now plays one game a year to try to convert the British to American Football. This deal costs the NFL close to nothing, as cable viewers will still watch the game as they regularly would, but the NFL captures a new audience on Twitter.
Additionally, if this streaming partnership is a success, the NFL can demand more money per ad slot, as they can show that the advertisements are reaching even more people than they were before. The move is also low-risk for the NFL. If it doesn’t succeed, ending the partnership is easy. But, if it does succeed, the NFL can consider expanding the partnership to Sunday and Monday games as well, which can massively expand the NFL brand.
How this is good for you:
Watching Thursday Night Football games just got a lot easier! Since Twitter is a free service, watching the NFL is now more convenient at no extra cost. Convenience is nice and all, but the thing that NFL fans should be excited about is the president that this partnership creates. The NFL is a very tradition-oriented organization that has had trouble adapting in the past. Integrating the league into social media shows that the NFL is interested in all of its fans, especially the younger ones who are very loyal to their social media. Commissioner Goodell believes that where NFL fans go, the league itself should follow.
“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.”
Should another social media platform overtake Twitter in popularity, the NFL will likely follow, ensuring that the league stays relevant, and the fans are able to watch the games.
Where this goes from here:
The success or failure of this partnership between the NFL and Twitter heavily hinges on how viewed the Thursday Night Football games are on Twitter. So, if you are a NFL fan who is on Twitter, give Twitter streaming a shot, if only to show the NFL that you appreciate them expanding into social media streaming. The most recent NFL game abroad took place at London’s Wembley Stadium and was streamed online. The NFL estimates that 33% of the streams came from outside of the United States from an astonishing 185 countries. The future of the NFL’s streaming is bright and this partnership with Twitter is just step one.