Potential Twitter-Apple TV deal may set stage for new sports media environment

The (digital) revolution won’t be televised, or will it? With today’s news that Twitter is in negotiations with Apple to provide users the Twitter App on Apple TV, the social media company is taking the next steps in capitalizing on its latest sports media rights deals and potentially providing a test case for the viability of live sports streaming for the industry.

Over the last few months Twitter has secured deals with the NFL, Wimbledon, Major League Baseball, and the National Hockey League to stream live games and the NBA to bring live pre- and post-game shows to the service. This influx of highly coveted content makes Twitter an intriguing partner for Apple, which is continually searching for a foothold in the over-the-top (OTT) space through its Apple TV product. A potential deal between the companies would serve to boost the pool of users Twitter is able to reach with its newly acquired content and provide Apple with additional compelling sports content available through its service.

(Photo: Trevor Hughes, USA TODAY)

The entire gamble is a potential turning point as the sports business industry continues to survey the landscape to determine what the future holds for sports content. As consumers continue to cut the cord, OTT options keep materializing, and skinny bundles become all the rage, where and how content is viewed keeps shifting. How many people, and increasingly important who, tune in once Twitter starts broadcasting its NFL games will provide valuable information for a bevy of stakeholders, including the leagues, advertisers, media companies, and Twitter itself. If the company can show that millennials are choosing the social media platform as their medium of choice for sports content, it may prove to be the key for companies looking to reach that demographic.

Twitter is banking on being ahead of the curve when it comes to solidifying itself as the go to place for sports content. It’s a huge bet as the company has struggled to expand its user base and build beyond a platform that has become synonymous with real-time commentary on events and gaffes from celebrities, athletes and public officials. This upcoming Twitter sports year is also a proving ground for where the environment really sits with respect to digital content. With as much hype as streaming and digital have received, the apocalyptic predictions of the death of television, and reaching millennials becoming as difficult as finding some Pokemon Go characters, this will be the true test of how far or close we are to that new media landscape that has promised.