Can a Deeper NFL Partnership Help Twitter Attract More Users?

Can a Deeper NFL Partnership Help Twitter Attract More Users?

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Even if Twitter never attracts tens of millions more Baby Boomers and Gen Xers—people who generally think a Facebook account constitutes a large enough social-media footprint—it really should be able to recruit new pro football fans. They are uncommonly passionate about getting information on their teams, and there's likely no better place on the Internet to quickly search for what you need to know daily about the world of pigskin.

So Twitter, which has struggled mightily to grow users, must be crossing its virtual fingers that its latest deal with the National Football League causes an uptick in users. On Monday, the San Francisco tech player and the NFL revealed a two-year content distribution deal that hinges on video and marks Twitter's first multiyear pact with a large media company.

It will be the third year the pro football league participates in Twitter Amplify, which systematically enables media brands like the NFL to promote their TV events and run social ads against the broadcasts. For the first time, Twitter will quarterback ad sales completely while continuing to share subsequent revenue with the league.

ABC, ESPN, U.S. Open, CBS and the NCAA have also hooked into Twitter's tube-centric Amplify offering since 2013. And the NFL works with Twitter rivals YouTube and Facebook to push video content, too.

Twitter users will see more NFL content this season, including in-game highlights from preseason games to the Feb. 7 Super Bowl. Per the NFL, the content will consist of breaking news and analysis, game highlights, "custom" game recaps, infographics, behind-the-scenes footage and archival video.

"Furthermore, the NFL and Twitter will continue to collaborate on new discovery features and user experiences to broaden access of NFL content to millions of fans," the league said in a press release this morning.

That vague statement suggests the NFL could get early dibs on leveraging Twitter's forthcoming Project Lightning program, which, according to a recent BuzzFeed article, will aim to improve real-time content on the social media platform.

Meanwhile, if you work at Twitter, one can only hope the deeper NFL partnership eventually helps provide a large spike in its monthly user base. Twitter totaled 316 million visitors last quarter—a modest lift from the 308 million monthly users it got during Q1.

According to Nielsen, the NFL last season reached more than 202 million consumers, accounting for 80 percent of U.S. homes with televisions and 68 percent of potential viewers across platforms.



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