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More Football Is Coming to Your Twitter Feed, Courtesy of a New Deal With the NFL

Twitter wants to emphasize big, live events. NFL games are a good place to start.

Jared Wickerham / Getty Images
Peter Kafka covers media and technology, and their intersection, at Vox. Many of his stories can be found in his Kafka on Media newsletter, and he also hosts the Recode Media podcast.

Twitter has a whole lot to figure out right now, starting with basic questions like: Who should be Twitter’s CEO? And who should be on Twitter’s board?

Meanwhile, other parts of Twitter appear to be working well. Media companies, for instance, are happy to share some of their content with the service, in hopes of getting exposure, ad revenue, or both.

Today’s example: The NFL has signed a two-year deal to bring more pro football highlights to Twitter, which wants the NFL to be part of its strategy to emphasize big, live events.

This is an extension of a deal the NFL first signed with Twitter in 2013, and renewed again last year. The NFL also has deals with big platforms including Facebook and YouTube, and it’s reasonable to assume it will keep working with those companies and other ones that offer lots of digital reach.

The significance here, from Twitter’s perspective, is that it’s the first time it has done a multi-year deal with a big media company like the NFL. And while Twitter execs won’t say it out loud, it looks as though they plan on using NFL content — everything from highlight clips generated from games that are still happening to behind-the-scenes footage — as part of their “Project Lightning” gambit, which will emphasize big, popular events happening in real time. Like NFL games.

Glenn Brown, the Twitter sales exec in charge of the company’s deals with content companies, won’t comment directly on its Project Lightning plans. But you, the Re/code reader, are smart! So you can read between the lines in this quote from Brown: “Any new cool, discovery path, we want the NFL to be front and center of that. The content is the most engaging stuff we’ve seen.”

Gotcha! If you are also a Re/code reader who cares about the way ads are bought and sold, you may also want to note that in this deal Twitter will sell ads directly against the NFL’s content, and share revenue from those sales. That’s a change from previous “Amplify” deals, where Twitter and its media partners both sold the stuff together.

For the rest of you: The NFL thinks Twitter is a good place to distribute some of the media world’s most in-demand content. So whenever Twitter figures out who’s going to run the company, deals like this could help them succeed.

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