Twitter continues its commercial drive to align itself with sports and entertainment by announcing a new partnership with the NFL. The deal means that your stream will now come with game footage as well as “video packages,” like game highlights, analysis, and even some fantasy football advice (which some members of my league could definitely use). This content will, of course, come embedded in tweets, as per Twitter’s push to add more visual elements to tweets with embedded photos and video.
The deal is similar to the one struck with the NBA last May, when the two teamed up to bring playoff highlights and content to the feed – a partnership which also gave sponsors like Sony and Taco Bell some added spotlight.
For sports fans – and the advertisers behind these leagues – it certainly feels like an “everybody wins” situation: Fans get more game content, including exclusives; advertisers get yet more eyeballs on their names, handles, links, and hashtags; and Twitter (fingers crossed) gets more time on screen from the likes of us.
The NFL has been particularly active on the social Web, for better or worse. As a league, there’s an empire being constructed where teams, insiders, and networks are creating a new way for fans to engage behind the scenes, and it’s changing the way we watch sports. We know more, know it immediately, and talk about it as it’s happening. It’s also making fans smarter; there’s been ample research about how Twitter can help us predict the outcome of football games – something every fantasy football player has at least considered as a strategy.
But there’s also the “for worse” side of the equation; namely, players individually taking to Twitter and broadcasting ideas and opinions (and Instagrams) that would be better left untweeted. It’s gotten so bad, teams have had to enforce strict guidelines about players’ Twitter use. Draft Day has also been a point of contention and caused the NFL to ask whether Twitter is helping or hurting.
Despite any drawbacks, Twitter has certainly become a hub for real-time sports interaction, and the NFL knows it has a faithful ally in the platform. The past few Super Bowls are example enough of the type of media firestorm and press that can be gained from Twitter. Both Twitter and the NFL will receive a cut of the revenue generated by the advertising from this venture, and the only real risk falls to Twitter, which just began the IPO process and is still testing the waters when it comes to TV advertising.
But for us – the fans – it just means more football (although be wary of spoilers, DVRers out there – I don’t advise looking at Twitter unless watching in real-time or post-game). So carry on, social media. All I want now is for Twitter to start supporting animated GIFs so the glory that is this Tom Brady fail can be replayed and promoted over and over.