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Why Twitter Is Adding Pro Lacrosse to Its Live-Streaming Lineup

Variety logo Variety 3/15/2017 Todd Spangler
© Provided by Variety

Twitter’s latest live sports play is… lacrosse?

The National Lacrosse League, which bills itself as the largest men’s pro indoor lacrosse league in North America, has struck a two-year deal with Twitter under which the social service will become its exclusive live-streaming partner.

No offensive to lacrosse fans, but the NLL is a very niche play — and for Twitter, that’s the point. Twitter made a big splash by nabbing a suite of Thursday night games from the NFL (which has 21.4 million followers on the social network), and also has Major League Baseball and NHL rights. But the company also sees an opportunity to carry less-popular sports: Note that the National Lacrosse League (38,600 Twitter followers) doesn’t have a national TV broadcast deal, so Twitter wants to lure passionate fans to its platform as the only way to watch the action live.

Under the pact, Twitter will distribute a free live broadcast of one NLL game weekly (starting March 17), as well as playoff and Champion’s Cup games and highlights, on its platform for the 2017 and 2018 seasons. Games will also be simulcast on NLLTV.com, the league’s recently launched subscription-video site.

Twitter users in the U.S. and Canada (whether they’re logged in or not) will be able to stream the National Lacrosse League games at NLL.twitter.com and via @NLL on computers, tablets and mobile devices. As part of the deal, Twitter will offer a range of sponsorship packages to advertisers.

The National Lacrosse League, founded in 1986, comprises nine franchises across the U.S. and Canada: Buffalo Bandits, Calgary Roughnecks, Colorado Mammoth, Georgia Swarm, New England Black Wolves, Rochester Knighthawks, Saskatchewan Rush, Toronto Rock and Vancouver Stealth.

The NLL on Tuesday announced a deal with over-the-top service Xumo to provide smart-TV owners free access to the league’s recorded games and highlights.

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