One of Twitter’s USPs is its ability to deliver live, up-to-date coverage and reaction to events. Indeed, the platform is most alive in the midst of major political, entertainment, and social events. Now Twitter plans capitalise on that USP by live streaming MLB and NHL games (as well as a nightly highlights program for 120 Sports, America’s Over-The-Top Sports Network). So why has the company chosen to do this?
On Monday Twitter announced that it will stream weekly out-of-market Major League Baseball (MLB) and National Hockey League (NHL) games, as well as produce an exclusive nightly highlights show called the “The Rally”.
Streaming rights for the MLB, NHL, and 120 Sports come through the social media platform’s new partnership with major league baseball advanced media (MLBAM). Content will be freely available to both logged-in and logged-out Twitter users in the United States, and MLB games will be available for global users (excluding those in certain international territories).
The announcement means that Twitter has now secured three separate Twitter-exclusive programs that will begin streaming on the platform this Autumn. A deal with the NBA secured the other two last week.
Along with a handful of other non-exclusive streaming deals announced in the last month (including deals with Pac-12, CBS, and Bloomberg), all of this shows just how committed Twitter is in moving forward as a company.
Twitter turned 10 in March this year, and since its inception has consistently been at the forefront of the social media revolution. However, in recent years, the site has been accused of failing to keep up with the demands of today’s social media users (and has seen its number of active users level off as a result). This year, though, the company is looking to turn that around, and has already revamped its 140-character tweet length rules, introduced measures intended to make the site easier to use, and began a new campaign to reassert itself.
Twitter’s deals with the MLBAM, Pac-12, CBS, Bloomberg, are another facet of company’s attempts to stay relevant. In effect, Twitter is attempting to assemble a mini-cable network. Though much of the content Twitter has secured is not “must-see” television, the leagues’ die-hard fans will certainly be happy with the result, and that (for now) may be enough for Twitter to boost user numbers and sustain its revenue.
If Twitter benefits sufficiently from the deals, the company will certainly be looking to secure rights for other sporting and entertainment events – and more popular ones at that. At the same time, other major social networks will be watching to see how Twitter fares in its decision to stream live sports. If successful, we may be about to see the sports industry find a great ally in social media.