I remember where I was when the Jacksonville Jaguars were losing to the Buffalo Bills 3-27: in the kitchen, feeding the cats with one eye on my laptop. By the time Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles threw that crazy touchdown pass to wide receiver Allen Hurns and clinched the game at 34-31, I was watching the game from bed and heard my husband whoop as he watched the game in the laundry room. To be honest, we streamed the game via Yahoo! mainly out of curiosity but it's not difficult to imagine streaming games becoming the norm for cord-cutting sports fans. In a nod to cord cutters, the National Football League and Twitter's streaming partnership is one of the latest examples of the NFL cozying up to the Internet.
Twitter will reportedly pay about $15 million to stream 10 Thursday night football games to users around the world. Twitter will also be able to stream the games via its apps on other platforms and potentially through the NFL's syndication partners such as Yahoo! and Google.
As Re/Code puts it, the NFL has created a deal where it gets more money for the same games it has already sold to other bidders. "This is about driving incremental consumption," Brian Rolapp, the NFL's vice president of media, tells Re/Code.
For brands and advertisers, the Twitter/NFL deal is part of "a new frontier in live TV advertising," maintains Scott Shamberg, U.S. president of Performics, the performance marketing agency arm of Publicis Media. "Live TV advertising has always been one-size-fits-all," Shamberg notes. "[But] we're currently in the midst of a big sea-change, and highly valuable live NFL content on Twitter will accelerate this shift."
Advertisers will be able to purchase more live TV inventory programmatically and target the ads at certain audiences based on what Twitter knows about its users. In other words, the lines between second-screen advertising and TV ads are becoming increasingly blurry.
The NFL isn't the only sports organization experimenting with live streams. Major League Baseball also struck a deal with Yahoo! Sports to live stream one MLB game per day for a total of 180 games, including commercial breaks.
It's too early to know what live streaming's impact will be in relation to the TV networks. The NFL and MLB's TV deals last until 2021 but by then the sports leagues will have a clearer understanding of how to monetize live streams and then the real negotiations begin.