Tuesday, April 5, 2016
TWITTER AND THE NFL ARE BIG FREE AGENCY WINNERS
With Roger Goodell tweeting about the deal between the NFL and Twitter to broadcast Thursday Night Football, it looks like the next generation of consuming sports content is in full swing. While the two players already had a working relationship, there are several reasons to be even more excited about the teaming of two blue-chip draft picks.
One thing we know is that the NFL is a juggernaut that doesn't make distribution or partnership decisions without significant strategy and foresight. By all accounts, Twitter was not the highest offer and other teams (including Amazon, Yahoo, Verizon, etc) all bid between 30-50% more. The partnership between the social media platform and the NFL was based more about opportunity than just plain revenue. Like a veteran player accepting less money to play for a Super Bowl contender, the league made a strategic versus financial move. And with Twitter's 350M users, it makes sense for the NFL to sure-up its roster by covering digital/social media with one of the top players out there.
Simply put, this is a win-win deal. As much as the NFL wins with the ability to add a popular distribution channel, Twitter is also a big victor as they practically steal the rights. $10M to broadcast the Nation's number one sport equates to a small OTA attendance clause in a QB's contract. By comparison, the NFL will get a total of approximately $450 Million from CBS and NBC for the rights to broadcast 10 games in 2016 and 2017, according to the Wall Street Journal. Based on those deals, Twitter would have still scored a decent contract at $10M PER GAME!
At only one million dollars per week, which the social media platform must easily spend in weekly marketing/SEO, they are able to become a destination hub on Thursdays. Its a fantastic deal and also allows for the creation of more shoulder programming with Periscope, in-game highlights, live Tweets, etc. Aligning with the NFL and having the most valued commodity in the world of content (NBC's Sunday Night Football was the highest rated series in America) makes this deal unbeatable.
Like Sean Payton in film study, the NFL explores every angle and the best way to strategically position 'the shield'. The league sees where there might be holes in the distribution secondary and they attack those areas to strengthen their game plan. While its no secret that the league wants to be ahead of the curve for the next generation of 'cord-cutting' fans, the right platform is indeed key. The NFL is well-covered on television with deals for that same Thursday Night Football package split between CBS, NBC, and their own NFL Network. And with larger deals for broadcast rights with partners including ESPN, NBC, Verizon, DIRECTV, etc., there is no shortage of players on the traditional (and mobile) platforms. So shoring up the OTT/digital special teams solidifies their roster. This move was a no-brainer and inevitable. We just didn't know what the name on the jersey would ultimately be.
While only time will tell if this is a Super Bowl winning deal, it looks like both parties have scored. They each addressed a free agent need and teamed up to provide desirable content across one of the most powerful social media platforms. This is no Hershel Walker trade where only the Cowboys won big. Its a true win-win with a big-time QB adding an All-Pro receiver to the offense. Now let's see if the scoreboard will light up, in real time, at 140 characters per score!