Verizon loses Thursday night NFL streaming rights to Twitter

Twitter won the rights to stream NFL Thursday night games online, beating out Verizon, Amazon and others that were bidding for the rights.

The social media network will stream 10 games around the world free during the upcoming season, filling out what the NFL calls a 'Tri-Cast' distribution model that includes TV, cable and Twitter's digital channel.

"Twitter is where live events unfold and is the right partner for the NFL as we take the latest step in serving fans around the world live NFL football," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a press release. "This agreement also provides additional reach for those brands advertising with our broadcast partners."

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Re/code reported that Twitter paid less than $10 million. The report noted that figure is a fraction of the $450 million CBS and NBC collectively paid for the rights to broadcast the Thursday games.

The deal enables Twitter to stream the games to users without requiring them to sign in to the service, which should help the company grow its audience. And Twitter can stream games through its apps on connected TVs, video game consoles and other platforms.

The agreement seems to mark a significant loss for Verizon, however, which already owns the mobile rights to NFL games, as Re/code noted. That deal remains in place, but Twitter can stream Thursday night games to a variety of hardware platforms rather than just mobile devices.

Like its competitor AT&T, Verizon is moving aggressively into media and advertising as growth in the U.S. smartphone market plateaus. It spent $4.4 billion last year to acquire AOL and its properties including Engadget and The Huffington Post, and earlier this year it introduced sponsored content in the form of FreeBee data, enabling content providers and others to pay the data freight through its Go90 video service.

But monetizing mobile video has always been a challenge for carriers, and Go90 appears to have stumbled out of the gate. The investment banking firm UBS said last month that Go90 is off to a "slow start" and will be "hard-pressed to mount a meaningful challenge to mobile video and social network leaders YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Netflix and Hulu."

A high-profile deal to stream Thursday night content from NFL games would surely have attracted attention to Go90 across devices. But Verizon may have decided that would simply be too costly.

For more:
- see this NFL press release

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