By Barry Janoff
April 5, 2016: Roger Goodell, commissioner for the NFL, has 485,000 followers on his Twitter account, despite the fact that his last tweet was Sept. 5, 2014.
Until today, when Goodell unveiled the news that Twitter has been signed to stream live NFL Thursday Night Football games, beginning this season.
"This fall Thursday Night Football will be streamed live @twitter so fans will see more of this," Goodell wrote, followed by an embedded video titled, "The 2015 NFL Season in Six Minutes."
According to Goodell, "This agreement also provides additional reach for those brands advertising with our broadcast partners.”
Financial details of the Twitter deal wet not shared, but it was put at about $10 million for the ten games by industry analysts.
Among others in the bidding process were Facebook, Amazon, Yahoo! and Verizon, according to analysts.
Twitter joins CBS and NBC as broadcast partners for Thursday Night Football, in addition to the league's own NFL Network.
Twitter will stream the ten Thursday Night Football games broadcast by CBS and NBC — the first five on CBS, the second five on NBC — which will also be simulcast on NFL Network.
NFL Network also retains exclusive broadcast rights to an eight-game package, to air following the ten on CBS and NBC.
"This is about transforming the fan experience with football. People watch NFL games with Twitter today," Jack Dorsey, Twitter CEO, said in a statement. "Now they'll be able to watch right on Twitter Thursday nights."
The NFL and Twitter, which have worked together since 2013 via the Twitter Amplify program, said the new alliance would provide "free, live streaming video of Thursday Night Football without authentication to the over 800 Million registered and non-registered users worldwide on the Twitter platform on mobile phones, tablets, PCs and connected TVs."
Twitter Sports has 13.6 million followers.
The move follows last season's first live stream of a regular season NFL game on Yahoo!, which enabled people worldwide to watch the Buffalo Bills play the Jacksonville Jaguars from London’s Wembley Stadium on Oct. 25.
According to the NFL, viewers streamed more thanr 480 million minutes of that game, with 33% of streams coming in internationally, across 185 countries worldwide.
In the Twitter deal, in addition to live streaming video of NFL action, the NFL said the partnership includes in-game highlights from Thursday Night Football and pre-game Periscope broadcasts from players and teams.
“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," Goodell said in a statement.
“There is a massive amount of NFL-related conversation happening on Twitter during our games and tapping into that audience, in addition to our viewers on broadcast and cable, will ensure Thursday Night Football is seen on an unprecedented number of platforms this season," said Goodell.
For the 16 games of the 2015 schedule, Thursday Night Football on CBS and NFL Network (and over-the-air stations) averaged a 7.9 HH rating and 13.0M viewers, up +59% and +61%, respectively, from 2013 when the games were solely on NFL Network, per the NFL.
The NFL also said that the 2015 season was the most-watched and highest-rated Thursday Night Football season in its history.
"We are continuing to make Thursday Night Football bigger and better," Goodell said during a media event when the new package was unveiled on Feb. 1. "CBS has played an integral role over the last two seasons in helping build Thursdays as a night for NFL football, and we're excited to have them on board again.
"At the same time, we're thrilled to add NBC to the Thursday Night Football mix, a trusted partner with a proven track record of success broadcasting NFL football in primetime, and look forward to expanding with a digital partner for what will be a unique tri-cast on broadcast, cable, and digital platforms.," said Goodell.
CBS, however, was less than ecstatic with the new deal.
"It became evident early on in the negotiations that the NFL was going to split the (Thursday Night Football) network package. They saw value in having two big media companies carry the games, not just one," Sean McManus, chairman for CBS Sports, said during a media conference call in conjunction with the signing of the broadcast pact.
"It would have been nice to return with all eight games, but that is not what the NFL wanted," said McManus.
CBS Sports McManus: NEW NFL 'TNF' Package Not What We Wanted
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