Reports suggest that Twitter is in talks with Apple to bring live NFL streaming to the Apple TV
Twitter plans to beef up its streaming initiative by signing a deal with Apple TV. As a part of the deal, a Twitter app will be provided for Apple TV, allowing users to watch Twitter’s live streaming offerings live. Notably, this now includes the National Football League (NFL).
Understandably, the move will suit both Twitter and Apple TV, given that users will have a reliable online streaming alternative to watch the popular sports league. The New York Times reported the news, citing three anonymous sources close to the deal. Live streaming for Twitter is a growing business since Twitter penned a deal with Google to give its streaming alternatives more prominence in search results.
For Apple TV, this represents a win since even the US users can watch games live. Apple TV already hosts NFL games and highlights, but the market is restricted to NFL Game Pass subscribers who have paid for the service. Those games cannot be live streamed in the US, which severely limits the audience for the sport. Apple TV will hence get much-better exposure while offering customers the chance to connect with a popular social networking app.
The Twitter app is also arguably a better option because of all the sharing options that come with the social media giant’s live streaming service. Users can share live stream links both on Twitter and on external websites, and even retweet a live stream of an entire game to their follows. Overall, it is more convenient than simply relying on Apple TV to be more social with Twitter’s live streaming option.
Twitter can also build a loyal following of sports fans for the social media service, keeping in mind the live broadcast deals that the social media giant has secured. Twitter had already signed a deal with the NFL to stream a few games in April. The social media titan has been quick to move in on other sports categories as well – fans could watch the Wimbledon live on Twitter, while the NBA, MLB and NHL also have agreed to stream some games live on Twitter.
The NFL had offers from Facebook, Twitter’s rival social network, for a share of the live streaming pie. However, Facebook had stringent conditions and wanted complete control and authority over the ads that would be sold during the NFL broadcasts. Given the NFL’s existing agreements (and potential for losing ad revenue), it made more sense to go with Twitter.
Twitter only wants to sell some of the ads on its own, and bought 10 NFL games for $10 million last season. The tweeting site was also said to have an affinity for Thursday night games, which attracted 13 million users on average last season.
It perhaps helps that Anthony Noto, CFO Twitter, has had ties in the past with the NFL, which perhaps explains Twitter’s sports-related live streaming investments. Mr. Noto said that it was important for Twitter to provide a streaming option directly from the source, which did not require users to jump through hoops to watch the game. By ensuring that users are not required to pay first or create an account to stream, Twitter hopes to encourage new users to sign up with the service.
Twitter can hence benefit from an increase in the monthly active user base, while also potentially increasing its potential for ad revenue. The NFL deal will not be cheap, and Twitter will need to show investors that it can rake in some revenue to offset the investment. This is also a practical way for Twitter to expand its services and encourage a wider demographic range of users and viewers.
If Twitter churns out more deals like this, it just might be able to fend off competition in the live streaming space from Facebook and YouTube. For Apple TV, this might give the service a boost amidst competition from Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime.