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Twitter wins NFL streaming rights

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America’s National Football League says it has chosen Twitter as its exclusive global partner for streaming its Thursday night games during the 2016 regular season.

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Twitter Inc, whose shares were up about one per cent in early trading, will stream 10 games for free, the NFL said in a statement overnight, Australian time.

The deal also includes in-game highlights as well as pre-game broadcasts from players and teams on Periscope, Twitter’s live-streaming video service.

Twitter outbid a number of companies, including Verizon Communications, Yahoo Inc and Amazon.com to win the deal, according to Bloomberg, which first reported the news.

Facebook dropped out of the bidding last week, the report said.

The terms of the deal were not announced, but technology news website Re/code, citing people familiar with the bidding process, reported that Twitter had paid less than $US10 million ($A13.15 million).

The NFL signed a multiyear partnership with Twitter last year to deliver video and other content to fans on a daily basis.

The previous partnership, which expanded the NFL’s existing partnership with Twitter, included in-game highlights from pre-season through Super Bowl 50.

Anthony Noto, Twitter’s current chief financial officer, also held the same position at the NFL between 2008 and 2010.

Up to Monday’s close of $US17.09, Twitter’s shares had fallen 26 per cent this year.

The company’s shares hit an all-time low in February after the company said its user growth stalled for the first time since it went public in 2013.

The deal comes as sports fans are increasingly relying on the internet to watch video at the expense of traditional cable and satellite connections.

Livestreaming the games would give Twitter a new avenue to attract users as it tries to catch up with rival social networks like Facebook Inc, which has over a billion users.

The NFL partnership helps cement Twitter’s position as a destination for live video, said Tom Richardson, president of consulting firm Convergence Sports & Media.

“I don’t think it’s going to cannibalise viewership at all,” CBS Sports Chair Sean McManus said.

“I don’t see people turning off their televisions and watching the game on Twitter.

“The fact that our national commercials are running on the Twitter feed is a big benefit.”

An NBC spokesman declined to comment.

Twitter will live-stream 10 games for free to the more than 800 million people who use its service, as well as non-registered users.

Twitter Chief Executive Jack Dorsey said users would be able to watch the games “right on Twitter”.

Under the deal, Twitter can sell local ads off the games, but national ads, which make up about 85 per cent of the spots during the games, will be sold by CBS and NBC.

-Reuters

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