The deal between Twitter and the NFL to stream football games raised more than a few eyebrows, and now some sources are saying that the league’s decision to join forces with Twitter could have been influenced by disputes with Facebook regarding how much the games are worth.
NFL football is America’s most popular sport, and the news that Twitter had won the streaming rights over Facebook, which has a much bigger user base, was met with a fair amount of surprise. Twitter reportedly paid less than $10 million for the rights to stream ten Thursday night NFL games next fall.
The NFL admitted that Twitter was not the highest bidder; other interested parties included Yahoo, Facebook, Verizon, and Amazon. The games will also air on NBC, CBS and the NFL Network in the fall. Last year, Yahoo screened one NFL game, and the experiment appears to have inspired the league to expand its online streaming presence.
The Twitter deal enables mobile audiences to view NFL games anywhere and chat about them at the same time. Sports are one of the few options in programming that are still watched by and large live, and they also reach millennial males, a traditionally hard-to-reach advertising demographic.
Despite having a larger audience and a promising Facebook Live platform, sources told CNBC that the NFL thinks that Facebook does not have a very good monetization model and has not quite mastered getting revenue from live streaming the way that Twitter has.
Marketing gurus weigh in
The CEO of social video production and distribution firm Grabyo, Gareth Capon, feels this is a strong sign that live streaming on social media isn’t going away any time soon.
He said: “For many years marketers have talked about Twitter and Facebook as the ‘second-screen’ for sports fans. Now, there are just platforms and screens. The next generation of sports fans are online and on their mobiles. It’s important that broadcasters and rights holders recognise the demand for content on these devices and the commercial opportunities that exist as highlighted by the Twitter/NFL deal.”
Will Premier League be next?
The co-founder and CEO of video creation platform Wochit, Dror Ginzberg, believes the Premier League will be envious of the NFL’s agreement and could well end up making a similar deal.
He said: “The big question is not if European sports will follow suit, but when. The English Premier League will be looking enviously at the NFL’s deal and seeking to follow this example, especially as adults in the UK watch more than five hours of video per day, making video the single most popular media activity online.”