Touchdown for Twitter

In a surprise outcome to the battle for NFL streaming rights, Twitter beat out Amazon, Verizon, and other bidders for the right to live stream Thursday night football.

This comes after a period in which the platform seemed to struggle to redefine itself in the search for new users and improved sources of monetization. Recent initiatives include Twitter Moments–a curated best of Twitter–and the reported possibility of extending tweets far beyond the classic 149 character limit. Twitter has also faced sharp criticism from high profile investors.

The NFL deal will allow Twitter to stream 10 of next season’s Thursday night games (the same games as network TV). Given the interest from Amazon and Verizon, it’s notable that (according to sources) Twitter secured the package for less than $10 million.

Some speculate that the football stream will be tied to Moments, and will feature associated tweets as well as action and commentary. As far as significance for marketers goes, Adam Bain, Twitter’s COO, said (in a series of tweets):

“This new deal builds on the great success of our Amplify partnership the past 3 years w/ the NFL…and now allows full LIVE game on Thursday. It also continues our strategy to build world’s best daily connected audience that watches together & can talk w one another in real-time. New Thursday Night Football deal is great for our Marketers, as Twitter controls some of games’ ad inventory. Can’t wait to bring to market! Will be amazing for Marketers to associate w/ this TNF content & reach audiences in moment they are most receptive to hearing from brands.”

Twitter shares climbed briefly in pre-market trading.

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