Why NFL + Twitter

American, playbook, play.

If you didn’t see this in the news, it’s not too surprising.  This content creation and distribution game is changing quickly.

Twitter now has a deal with the NFL to broadcast games online.  This is the latest big deal – not financially (it’s actually a smallish deal for the NFL), but this is another ‘the beginning of the end for pay / traditional broadcast TV.’ 

We have seen other providers try to replicate / re-broadcast terrestrial and pay TV online (usually by subscription), but this is different.  This is an existing, large-scale platform with huge influence and a built-in user base.  This is the same reason Facebook Live is important.  You already have a user base, one that’s not leaving your platform anytime soon (they are invested), and now you have their attention.

Also it shows that the NFL is “taking a risk” here by on putting it up online.  Only it’s not necessarily the risky thing.  It’s the safe thing.  Everything is moving online, so maybe the plan to get in early and make sure your platform’s foundation in the new space is solid.  It’s the illusion of risk, but, inevitably, digital space is where content is going.

The perceived risk is that we don’t know how this stuff is going to be monetized – or that it cannot be monetized at the same level everyone is used to.  But the truth is every time you jump into a new medium, the monetization is going to change.  If you can’t get on board with that, you are going to get left behind (this means you, music industry).

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The second piece that’s important to note when moving online is traditional TV ad dollars are going away – not tomorrow, but it’s definitely not going to be here forever.  The NFL knows this might happen, so they are going to a place where they can have targeted marketing sales – where you can get info on all your viewers and data on their viewing habits – something that is critical going forward and is largely unavailable under traditional broadcast media.

Live events are basically the last hope that broadcast and pay TV have, all that keeps a chunk of the market attached to their pipelines.  Right now, you can’t watch sports games on digital except through expensive digital subscriptions – this NFL/Twitter deal is changing how we understand live event broadcasting.  You will be able to interact and watch Twitter feeds pertaining to your content – it’s simultaneously incorporating the concept of second screen and folding it into the content to keep eyeballs there.

The NFL isn’t the first big sport to distribute online – lots of MMA is already in the space.  The UFC actively promotes their undercards and airs them solely online to gain awareness for their TV and pay-per-view, but it also gets people used to the space and will have them ready to transition when the UFC moves to all digital (and probably becomes even more profitable because the distribution deals are more lucrative).

If all this sounds boring and you need the TL:DR – the NFL is putting some of their games online – on Twitter.  This is one less reason for audiences to be attached to traditional broadcast and pay TV.  It also gives audience content in a new format that can potentially improve the experience (if it’s done right).

Here’s the original article:

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-04-05/twitter-said-to-win-nfl-deal-for-thursday-night-streaming-rights

Author: Nate Funaro

Animation & video producer / designer / dog rescuer / cocktail maker based in Los Angeles

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