Twitter to stream Thursday night NFL games in 2016 season

Tue Apr 5, 2016 5:16pm EDT
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By Jessica Toonkel and Narottam Medhora

(Reuters) - The National Football League has chosen Twitter as its exclusive global partner for streaming its Thursday night games during the 2016 regular season, the parties said on Tuesday, a deal that could help the social media site expand its user base.

CBS Corp CBS.N and Comcast Corp CMCSA.O unit NBC, which won the broadcast rights in February, could also gain more viewers via Twitter, TV executives said.

Twitter Inc TWTR.N spokesman Brian Poliakoff declined to disclose the financial terms, or elaborate on how the games would be streamed. But technology news website Re/code, citing people familiar with the bidding process, reported that Twitter paid less than $10 million for the streaming rights.

The deal comes as sports fans are increasingly relying on the Internet to watch video at the expense of traditional cable and satellite connections. Livestreaming the games would give Twitter a new avenue to attract users as it tries to catch up with rival social networks like Facebook Inc FB.O, which has over a billion users.

The NFL partnership helps cement Twitter's position as a destination for live video, said Tom Richardson, president of consulting firm Convergence Sports & Media.

"I don't think it's going to cannibalize viewership at all," CBS Sports Chair Sean McManus said. "I don't see people turning off their televisions and watching the game on Twitter."

"The fact that our national commercials are running on the Twitter feed is a big benefit," he said.

An NBC spokesman declined to comment.   Continued...

The Twitter logo is shown at its corporate headquarters  in San Francisco, California April 28, 2015.  REUTERS/Robert Galbraith