Tweaking Twitter Creates New Channel for Sports Content

By Adam Grossman

Twitter recently announced new or expanded content distribution deals with the NFL, WNBA, MLB, PGA Tour, and The Players Tribune. This includes having live games, highlights, pre / post game analysis, and Ask Me Anythings (AMAs) with athletes.

The deal with Twitter has been generating significant interest in the sports industry for two reasons. First, these deals continue to demonstrate the increasing importance of over-the-top (OTT) platforms in sports. Rather than focus solely on working with broadcast networks and / or cable / satellite providers, sports rights holders are placing increasing emphasis on distributing content through digital channels such as Twitter that go directly to consumers. Yet, these same leagues still generate the majority or at least a significant portion of their overall revenue through media rights deals with more traditional channels. The fact that these leagues are signing deals with Twitter given these dynamics demonstrates the changes that could be coming for sports content distribution in the near future.

Second, it is clear that Twitter is making a big bet on sports. The success of its original deal with the NFL (where it was able to stream 10 Thursday night games on the platform) has shown Twitter that having live sports content resonates with its users. In particular, younger demographics who spend significant amounts of time on the site tend to engage with Twitter during NFL games. Having content that can target younger, more lucrative demographics means that Twitter has more opportunities to grow its revenue at a time when the company has been struggling to monetize its audience.

Twitter’s investment in sports shows how sports sits at the intersection of two of the most important trends impacting media and entertainment. Finding unique content and using OTT platforms is something that the largest media companies in the world are encountering as some of their biggest strategic challenges.  The solution to this problem continues to be sports. Facebook, Amazon, Twitter, and more have continued to make significant investments in acquiring sports content for their platforms. This shows that, even as distribution channels continue to change, sports content will likely remain one of the most valuable assets companies can have.