Last season, the National Football League live streamed a single game worldwide via Yahoo, but the American football juggernaut has greater ambitions for next season - and just found a new partner.
Today, the NFL announced that Twitter will live stream 10 games during the 2016 season. Yes, Twitter: the social network built on bite-sized missives and retweets hopes to have viewers tune in for three hours each week for a large chunk of the 16-game regular season.
All 10 games will come from the Thursday night schedule, and will be the same games that broadcast networks NBC and CBS air on national TV in the United States. The streams will be widely available for anyone in the world, and you'll be able to watch from phones, tablets, computers, and smart TVs. We wouldn't be surprised to see the streaming functionality come in an app for consoles and set-top boxes, as well.
Twitter also plans to augment the Thursday Night Football experience with pre-game Periscope streams from players and teams, offering an inside window into what's happening behind the scenes and in the locker rooms. And you won't need to be a Twitter member to watch the games, either.
"This is about transforming the fan experience with football. People watch NFL games with Twitter today," said Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter. "Now they'll be able to watch right on Twitter Thursday nights."
According to Bloomberg, Twitter beat out Facebook for the privilege to live stream NFL games next season, and companies like Amazon, Verizon Wireless, and Yahoo were all in the mix earlier on. Apple and Google were reportedly interested, as well, but it doesn't sound like they went as deeply into the negotiations.
Given Twitter's stalled growth and worries from investors, they may have been more willing to spend big for a flashy attraction like this. It's unclear how much money will be exchanged for this deal, but Yahoo paid US$17 million (about RM67 million) for the one game last season, and NBC and CBS are each paying around US$45 million (nearly RM177 million) per game for broadcast TV rights for these very same matchups ahead.
Admittedly, Thursday Night Football games are rarely highlights on the weekly schedule: the NFL still saves its biggest showdowns for Sunday, as well as ESPN's Monday Night Football. Thursday is still relatively new territory for the league - they've only done Thursday night games throughout the entire regular season since 2014 - but while those games may not always be the most significant showdowns of the week, even a pairing of middling teams can sometimes produce a great match.
And as the NFL continues to try and build more of an international audience for the league, the ability for anyone the world over to tune into a game on Twitter can only help its reach.