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Twitter, NFL team up again for live programs, but not games

The new deal comes after a month after Twitter lost the rights to stream NFL games.

The NFL and Twitter have a new deal.
Getty Images

Looks like Twitter and the NFL will be broadcasting partners again after all.

Both said Thursday they're teaming up for new programming on the social network, including a 30-minute show with on-air personalities from the NFL Network who will broadcast five days a week during the season.

There also will be behind-the-scenes pregame broadcasts on Twitter and on its Periscope livestreaming channel before the NFL's Sunday, Monday and Thursday night prime-time games and other big matchups.

The new multiyear deal comes a month after Twitter lost the rights to stream a second season of "Thursday Night Football" games. Instead, the NFL chose e-commerce giant Amazon for a reported $50 million for the season -- five times more than Twitter paid for those same rights last year. Twitter hinted at the time that it would still work with the league on content.

"Twitter continues to be an important partner in accessing millions of highly engaged fans on digital media," Brian Rolapp, the NFL's chief media and business officer, said in a statement. "We have every expectation that the new daily live show, produced by NFL Network and featuring some of our top analysts, will quickly become some of the most popular programming on Twitter."

Twitter's deal with the NFL also comes after the social network last week announced more than a dozen new news, sports and music livestreaming deals in an increasingly competitive landscape. There will still be plenty of NFL-related highlights and on-demand video content on the platform.

Twitter execs said during a better-than-expected earnings call last month that the company is reaching for a younger and more mobile audience. More than half of its logged-in audience is under the age of 25. Currently, Twitter said it has more than 40 livestream partnerships and has already livestreamed more than 800 hours of content this year.

The new deal with the NFL is similar to the one Twitter signed last year with the NBA. Though Twitter would have preferred streaming games, this NFL programming deal should play more to the platform's strengths, said Paul Verna, a video analyst at eMarketer.

"This deal is more mobile-friendly and forward-leaning for Twitter, as watching an NFL game is a lean-back experience mostly meant for TV, and Amazon may be stronger in that connected TV space," he said. "Amazon can afford to take a loss. Twitter can't."

First published May 11, 8:47 a.m. PT.
Update, 12:30 p.m.: Adds comment from analyst.

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