The headlines don’t tell the full story. Today there is coverage that Twitter is in discussions with Turner, the NBA and MLS to stream content via the social media service. Just looking at the headline, it would make sense to assume that Twitter will have live game content because of its deal with the NFL. That isn’t the case. Twitter has been testing out its streaming capabilities with Wimbledon this week, but the content is limited to player interviews, match replays and ancillary content. That type of content is the most likely to end up on Twitter if deals with the NBA and MLS go through.
ESPN still owns some NBA rights — along with Turner — and wouldn’t want to give up live streams to what could turn into a future competitor. So there won’t be any NBA on ABC games streaming on Twitter at the same time. It doesn’t make sense for ESPN to allow that. That doesn’t mean Twitter can’t get highlights, exclusive interviews or game breakdowns on its new sports streaming service.
The most interesting part of this deal is the discussion with Turner. Turner distribution rights to the NBA, MLB, and NCAA tournament. If Turner feels that digital streaming is out of its area of expertise it could rely on Twitter as a distribution arm. Since Turner owns those broadcasting rights a deal would have to be struck, but that’s the only real impediment. If it’s a success, it may even make sense for Turner to purchase Twitter. After all Twitter stock hasn’t been on a roll lately.
This is an attempt for Twitter to be the go-to digital streaming service for sports. There has been rumors of tech and social media companies looking to get into the sports rights game for a while now. Twitter is attempting to raise its profile — and stock price — by becoming that service. It already has a very engaged sports user base, as many of its active users use Twitter for sports discussion and news. Twitter is attempting to get ahead of Facebook, Amazon, Google, and Apple before the market really heats up.
As of now the service has been getting good reviews. Once Twitter streams NFL games this upcoming season, it will have to place advertisements on its stream and we will see where it goes from there. For now, Twitter looks to be placing its future success on sports and streaming.