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Twitter signs deal with NFL to live stream Thursday Night Football

TechCrunch TechCrunch 5/04/2016 Jordan Crook

In a flurry of news this morning, it would appear that Twitter has won a deal with the NFL that gives the social network the right to stream Thursday Night Football live on the platform.

Beyond the live stream of the game, the partnership will also include pre-game Periscope broadcasts from players and teams, as well as in-game highlights from TNF.

Bloomberg first reported the news this morning based on sources familiar with the matter. A few minutes later, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell tweeted a confirmation, with the NFL posting this official announcement.

Bloomberg is also reporting that Twitter beat out other major players in the tech space, including Verizon (which owns Aol, which owns TechCrunch), Yahoo, Amazon, and Facebook.

Given Twitter’s slowing growth numbers — the company has plateaued at around 300 million active users — this deal could be a huge boost for the platform. Putting aside its slower growth than networks like Facebook, Twitter is best when paired with live TV. It’s the fine Cabernet to a medium-rare filet mignon.

With the new deal, Twitter can likely see more engagement out of fans who never really cared for Twitter, but came to the platform for some Thursday Night Football.

This is also an important move for the NFL, which has long been the stronghold of cable television. As more and more users cut the cords, the NFL is having to think beyond the cable model to reach as many viewers as possible with their very expensive advertising.

Here’s what Jack Dorsey had to say:

This is about transforming the fan experience with football. People watch NFL games with Twitter today. Now they’ll be able to watch right on Twitter Thursday nights.

All in all, it’s an interesting way to start the 2016 NFL season.

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