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Twitter in talks to add NBA and MLS streams to its sports coverage

Engadget Engadget 8/07/2016 Billy Steele
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After putting its livestream tools to the test with Wimbledon coverage this week, Twitter is said to be looking to carry more sports action. Recode reports the social network is in talks with the NBA, MLS and Turner networks to show "content related to live sports and events." While the negotiations are said to involve digital streaming rights, it's unclear at this point if the streams would include actual game footage like Twitter's NFL deal or if it will be the pre- and post-game analysis like we saw from Wimbledon.

It's important to note that ESPN owns the broadcast rights to the aforementioned tennis tournament, so that's why Twitter wasn't able to stream matches live. Talking to the basketball and soccer leagues makes sense, but why would the company include Turner? Well, Turner has locked down the rights to NBA, MLB and NCAA Basketball Tournament games already in addition to its own eSports league. MLS games are typically regional broadcasts, but ESPN and FOX each show one or more games a week. Twitter's CFO Anthony Noto made the talks known in April, but now there's a sense of which leagues and networks the company is trying to work with.

As Recode notes, Twitter is limited to advertising as the primary revenue stream when it comes to any live video. Compare that with money networks like Turner or ESPN usually earn from cable and satellite companies in carriage fees. Those networks are unlikely to give up a ton of live coverage, so Twitter's push for basketball and soccer will probably be mostly that pre- and post-game content used to generate interest in the actual live broadcast through TV service or subscription. Yahoo is also getting its piece of the sports streaming pie, offering weekly NHL and daily MLB livestreams. It also streamed NFL action last season. Twitter did secure the rights for 10 Thursday Night NFL games this fall though, so we'll have to wait and see how this pans out.


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