A TechCrunch article: So, Recode reported today that Twitter was tinkering around with the idea of expanding its 140 character limit to a number a bit higher….10,000 characters. But what,...
Courtesy of Bloomberg:
Twitter Inc., making a strategic push into online programming, won a deal to show Thursday night National Football League games online.
The social-media company was said to have bid against a slate of heavyweights including Verizon Communications Inc., Yahoo! Inc. and Amazon.com Inc. Facebook Inc. dropped out of the contest last week, according to a person with knowledge of the discussions who asked not to be named because the talks were private. Twitter will stream 10 Thursday night football games to the public for free, while they are also shown on NBC, CBS and the NFL Network, the NFL said in a statement Tuesday.
The deal gives Twitter a key piece of content to attract mainstream users in its quest to make its service a go-to place to react to and discuss live events. The NFL, aware that a growing number of households are comfortable streaming video over the Internet, is using the digital rights for Thursday night games to reach so-called cord-cutters, as former cable-TV subscribers are known. The NFL has streamed selected games, but this is its first season-long streaming deal and a high-profile foray into live programming for Twitter.
“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. “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.”
Terms of the deal weren’t immediately available. Last season, Yahoo paid $17 million to stream a game from London, which was played at 9:30 a.m. New York time and also broadcast on network TV in the teams’ home markets. On American TV, the league commands the highest per-game price for any sport on American TV. In the most recent broadcast deal, CBS Corp. and Comcast Corp.’s NBC each paid about $45 million a game for five Thursday night contests for the 2016 and 2017 seasons.
Twitter would probably broadcast the games as a part of the six-month-old Moments feature, which could package a live event alongside commentary, behind-the-scenes tweets, and other content. Twitter also controls some of the advertising inventory for the games, Chief Operating Officer Adam Bain said on Twitter.
The league is using Thursday night games, which draw smaller audiences than the contests on Sundays and Mondays, to experiment with different kinds of media, distribution models and technologies. By the time the NFL’s biggest broadcast contracts expire in 2021, it will be prepared to sell a broad array of digital rights — and make more money.
As it hits its 10-year mark, Twitter is struggling to bring new users on board and expand beyond being a platform used mostly by journalists, politicians and celebrities. It has been experimenting with ideas such as curated tweets and a new algorithmic timeline.
Chief Executive Officer Jack Dorsey says Twitter’s role in the world centers around bringing people together to watch live events in the place where information comes the fastest.
“This is a bigger strategic effort for Twitter than it would have been for any other of the reported companies,” said James Cakmak, an analyst at Monness Crespi Hardt & Co. “It’s not just winning the deal — that’s the easy part. It will be interesting to see how exactly they plan to leverage it.”
The NFL has been exploring new outlets beyond its traditional TV broadcasts to try and reach more viewers. Twitter opens up a connection to social media where viewers can interact live during games. The NFL also has a mobile distribution pact with Verizon that gives the carrier rights to stream games to phones and tablets with screens smaller than seven inches.
Twitter, whose Chief Financial Officer Anthony Noto is a former CFO of the NFL, signed an agreement last year with the NFL to distribute highlights and other clips on the service.
Verizon had been considered one of favorites in the race for the NFL’s Thursday night games, but the NFL was interested in more diverse options, according to a person familiar with the discussions.