Twitter to Stream NFL Thursday Night Football Games

LOS ANGELES—After a reported bidding war for the rights to exclusively stream Thursday Night Football (TNF) games next season, the NFL has announced that Twitter has emerged as the winner. The social media site will deliver a live OTT digital stream of 10 games for the 2016 football season across devices for free. Twitter will serve as the third part of the NFL’s “tri-cast” distribution model, which includes broadcast on NBC or CBS, cable via the NFL Network, and now digital from Twitter.

In addition to the live stream, the partnership will include in-game highlights from TNF and pre-game Periscope broadcasts from players and teams. Twitter users will be able to live stream the games without authentication through their phones, tablets, PCs and connected TVs. Twitter and the NFL had a previous partnership that provided video highlights and other features.

Twitter was able to tackle the streaming rights away from other interested parties, which reportedly included Amazon, Verizon and Facebook, though Facebook previously announced that it had dropped out of the running for the rights according to multiple reports.

“This is about transforming the fan experience with football,” said Jack Dorsey, Twitter CEO. “People watch NFL games with Twitter today. Now they’ll be able to watch right on Twitter Thursday nights.” 

The NFL streaming package comes after the league’s initial test of live streaming a regular season NFL game last season on Yahoo. A game between the Buffalo Bills and Jacksonville Jaguars at London’s Wembly Stadium was streamed by 33.6 million people, according to the NFL, last October.