Digital POV: Twitter loses NFL live streaming to Amazon


Twitter has lost out on its 2016 deal with the NFL to live stream games. Amazon announced this week it will be live streaming 10 Thursday night games in 2017, the same deal Twitter made last year. Twitter’s original deal allowed for free live streaming to the platform’s over 800 million registered & non-registered users through mobile, desktop, tablet and connected TVs. The deal also included in-game highlights from Thursday Night Football and pre-game Periscope broadcasts. Simultaneously, Twitter announced its Friday night live streaming schedule with the MLB, which it is renewing for a second season.

Details and Implications

Initial Twitter numbers from TNF streaming reported by TechCrunch showed 2 million people watching through the platform for an average of 22 minutes compared to 25 minutes on TV. The partnership also showcased a stream of tweets featuring certain NFL hashtags, encouraging engagement on the platform and increased visibility of Twitter content. Amazon reportedly paid five times more than Twitter for its one year deal, which limits live streaming to Amazon Prime members only.

Decreased time on Twitter can mean a decline in advertising opportunities due to lower reach. According to an eMarketer report from February, while the platform’s monthly active users in the US grew 3% in 2016 year over year, its ad revenue in the US declined 7% over the same time frame - and this included NFL live streaming.

The social network claims to have closed 40 live stream deals since partnering with the NFL in 2016, and reports to have delivered 800 hours of live premium content in Q1 alone. Additionally, the growing importance of new ad formats, specifically around video, aren’t lost on Twitter. New opportunities include premium pre-roll, which showcases short-form video in a more viewable and brand safe environment. Despite efforts to remain relevant video competition remains fierce, with similar pre-roll opportunities available on Facebook and YouTube which generate more scale.

The update has further impact on advertisers due to the removal of a pre-roll option during live streams for NFL Amplify partnership programs. This was previously a large incentive for advertisers to invest in this partnership program through Twitter. 2017 NFL Amplify opportunities have not yet been confirmed.


While Twitter did lose a major partnership, this probably isn’t going to be the make or break moment for the platform. Competitors like Instagram and Snapchat have increasingly been stealing the social share, resulting in a struggle to keep advertisers’ attention. Still, Twitter is making a large effort to stay in the game, bringing new live streaming and advertising opportunities to the forefront.