SBD/September 26, 2013/Media

NFL Strikes Large-Scale Deal With Twitter To Share Highlights, Other Material

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Twitter will have embedded NFL highlights and more throughout its site
The NFL and Twitter have struck a large-scale deal for the league to be part of Amplify, Twitter's emerging advertising platform. In the agreement, the NFL will embed highlights, news, fantasy content and other video material within the microblogging site, with individual clips preceded by short ads. The NFL and Twitter will share in ad revenue generated through the pact, with league sponsor Verizon signing on as an initial sponsor. Another NFL corporate partner will soon be announced as a second sponsor of the league's efforts on Amplify. While several other major sports entities, including ESPN and the NBA, previously agreed to participate in Amplify, the NFL historically has been very protective of its video rights and does not sign many external distribution deals beyond its primary network rights agreements. NFL execs described the Amplify deal as larger and "more robust" than other sports pacts to date on the platform, in part because of its plans to supply daily content on Twitter and operate a dedicated staff out of its L.A. media HQs to the project. Specific financial terms were not disclosed, but industry sources pegged the ad revenue to be generated through the partnership this season in the low eight figures.

INCREASING INTEGRATION: NFL Senior VP/Media Strategy & Development Hans Schroeder said, "We can easily see how this partnership is incremental and complimentary to our other mobile and other media offerings. This is an outfit that understands the value of premium content, and we think we're going to learn a lot." The highlight rights in the Twitter deal will include in-game clips from NFL Network's "Thursday Night Football" games. For other games, the NFL's existing TV deals dictate that highlights not show up on Twitter until after each telecast concludes. Twitter President of Global Revenue Adam Bain said, "Having access to this type of highly coveted content on Twitter will not only offer our users a unique programming schedule which will deepen their engagement with our platform, but will also provide sponsors with a value proposition that few other partners can bring to the table." The NFL-Twitter deal begins immediately and extends through the remainder of this season, with plans to revisit the partnership in the spring. The league's official @NFL Twitter handle, which has more than 5 million followers, will be a primary distribution point for the content in this deal, but Schroeder said other football-related feeds would be considered as the partnership evolves (Eric Fisher, Staff Writer).

SUNDAY FUNDAY: AD AGE's Cotton Delo reported most of the tweets "will be published on game days, especially Sunday, though the plan is to sprinkle them throughout the week." Other video content distributed on Twitter "will include clips from Sunday and Monday night games that have already finished airing on network partners like CBS, news and analysis clips, fantasy football tips, and calls to action to entice people to vote in polls." NFL VP/Digital Media Business Development Vishal Shah said that multiple promoted tweets "will be published each day for the duration of the season as part of the program." He "expects the campaign to reach more than 20 million Twitter users." Shah said that the "incremental ad revenue from ad sales with Twitter isn't the NFL's main reason for entering this partnership." He said, "We know that the fans are on Twitter, and we know the fans are consuming on social platforms. What we haven't seen anyone else do is find the right way to deploy some of the crown jewels from a rights perspective and make sure the fans get the content to add context to all that social conversation" (ADAGE.com, 9/25). The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Amol Sharma notes the deal "will significantly expand the audience that can view NFL content on mobile phones." Verizon subscribers currently "have the NFL Mobile app, and DirecTV Sunday Ticket subscribers also can get football content on their phones, but any Twitter user would be able to see the Amplify highlights." A source said that the league and Twitter have "pre-sold ad inventory, netting cash in the low eight-figure range" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 9/26).
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