Tech, Twitter, and the NFL

Twitter has been struggling mightily as of late. There’s been an apparent revolving door of CEOs, and growth has stalled. Some analysts argue that the problem with Twitter is that the company can’t quite figure out what it’s supposed to do. Instagram is for photography, Facebook is for sharing personal updates and commentary on shared posts, and LinkedIn is for job seekers or those trying to expand their professional networks. Twitter tries to do a lot, but the overload of information, combined with its restrictive length for new posts, severely limits what can be done with the platform. But there may be some hope for the social media platform, and it’s coming from an unlikely source: the NFL.

Last month, Twitter announced a broadcast deal with the National Football League that will allow them to broadcast ten Thursday Night Football games (including the Cardinals at 49ers). This is a major development for both sides. For the reasons discussed above, the benefits for Twitter are many. Streaming the nation’s most popular sport will bring an influx of new users to the platform, and may give their executives some sense of what consumer want from their product. Journalists, celebrities, and spectators are going to be tweeting about every major televised debate from the big game to the big debate, but there are few (if any) legitimate contenders that offer coverage of the event right next to the conversation.

Twitter got the broadcast rights for $1 million per game, which is a relatively generous offer. As Bloomberg points out, Yahoo paid $17 million for the broadcast rights to one of the London games (Jacksonville at Buffalo— a far cry from a marquee matchup).

The upside of this deal is huge for Twitter, but what about the NFL? While they aren’t worrying about declining viewership, they are staying ahead of the competition. The League’s willingness to partner with Twitter over companies that would have offered more money shows that they are thinking of the future, and how consumption of live television factors into the modern (nonexistent) cable package. “Skinny bundling” is quickly become a norm rather than an exception, and it’s wise for the governing body of America’s most popular game to respect the changing viewing habits, rather than force them to remain chained to their couches in the archaic models of an older time.