By Caity Conroy,
Sports Business Writer
In a world that seems to be changing by the second with new disruptive technologies and features being presented, sometimes it is hard to tell what is coming next. From refrigerators that tell you when you are out of milk to Snapchat filters that can make you puke rainbows, it was only a matter of time before the sports world got involved in the conversation.
The new disruption in the sports broadcasting world could prove to be the biggest change since fantasy football was introduced. The National Football League and Twitter have confirmed that they will be collaborating to stream Thursday night football games on the popular social media site.
Ten years ago, the landscape of media viewing was completely different. People got most of their information from the television or from newspapers. Today, most people get the latest updates on their smartphones, via apps like Twitter, Facebook, The Wall Street Journal, CNN, etc. During that time, the NFL began showing Thursday night games on CBS and NBC who agreed to pay the league hundreds of millions of dollars a year for the right to broadcast on their respective stations. Twitter will be entering the ring to offset their recent slowing-growth on the micro-blogging platform, and will pay around $15 million to do so. Twitter is planning on streaming ten Thursday night games this upcoming season. The livestream of the game will include pre and postgame highlights exclusive to Twitter.
The partnership between the most powerful sports league in the country and one of the most widely used social media outlets across the world is a stepping stone for both parties. The New York Times reported that at the NFL’s annual meeting last month, league executives told team owners and executives that the largest opportunity for revenue would come from digital and international business. Beginning the partnership with Twitter on the right foot, the Commissioner of the NFL posted his first tweet in nineteen months announcing the deal.
With the Twitter partnership, the NFL is looking to reach younger fans of the millennial generation. The NFL realized that it must appeal to the younger generations who may never pay for cable or a satellite package, due to being able to stream TV. It is also looking to expand its fan base overseas, similarly to how soccer is gaining more popularity within the United States. U.S. cities are forming soccer teams all the time. The NFL is looking to possibly do the same in Europe. Twitter is looking to gain new or bring back previous users by attracting football fans.
It is clear that the NFL is anticipating more changes to the media landscape in the future. What is the best way to market to a new generation of fans? The NFL believes that moving game broadcasts online via social media is the best way to reach the younger generations while also maintaining connections with older populations via television. During this upcoming season, football fans will be allowed to “watch” a game unravel from the convenience of their Twitter feed or their couch. By bringing social and conventional media into play, the NFL is sure to score a touchdown with fans of all ages.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, April 12th print edition.
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