Couchmans LLP – “Social Giants eye live sport assets”

Jody MacDonald

The NFL last week announced Twitter as its ‘Global Streaming’ partner, a $10 million deal which will see the social media network stream ten NFL Thursday night matches (in conjunction with CBS and NBC broadcasts).

The decision to partner with Twitter, shocked sports’ insiders as it was revealed that tech giants Yahoo, Verizon and Amazon had all outbid Twitter’s winning proposal.

Furthermore, numerous business analysts noted that the streaming partnership and its low value could undermine the NFL’s existing relationship with broadcasters who pay $ billions for the league’s TV rights.

Detailing its decision, Roger Goodell NFL Chief Commissioner stated that Twitter offered the best platform for the NFL and its advertisers to increase its “global reach and further extend its demographic”.

Jody MacDonald Senior Associate of sport-centric law firm Couchmans LLP detailed that the NFL’s tie-up with Twitter may become a sports standard as current social media giants looks to  further extend user engagement through sports content

“All of the main social media platforms are aware that live sport is a key driver of activity on their platforms and sport-specific offerings will be vital to their future success in a fiercely competitive sector.” 

“Twitter is already seen by many as the go-to second screen companion for live sports events, and has a history of working with the NFL in this regard, but its transition to first screen live sports rights at this time was not predicted by many. It will be fascinating to see how it uses the rights and whether it bids for other similar rights in the future.”

Addressing content rights and existing commercial relationship between sports, broadcasters and digital operators MacDonald advises that stakeholders need to prepare for a further convoluting value chain where the broadcasting and streaming of content will be likely entwined to engage with viewer habits on a global scale.

“It is important to note that the NFL hasn’t chosen to partner with Twitter to the exclusion of more traditional broadcasters – these games will also be shown live in the US by NBC, CBS and the NFL’s own cable channel.

However, this deal will enable Twitter, and the NFL, to gather a huge amount of valuable information about who is watching these games and what they do on social while they’re watching, which will put them both in a very strong position for a future in which digital and mobile will continue to disrupt traditional media rights models in sport.”

MacDonald who has advised European sporting bodies, on content and broadcasting rights amid the continuing growth of user social sharing, details that sports media stakeholders have had to rethink their relationship with social media operators.

“Historically, many sports bodies viewed social media platforms as a threat and a nuisance due to the ease with which they allow infringing content to be published and shared. This has changed in recent times as the benefits to sports bodies of publishing ancillary content around live events on social media themselves have become clear. This deal will no doubt increase the urgency with which sports bodies try to decipher how social media platforms will fit into the landscape of live sports rights in the, very near, future.”

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