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Twitter wants more streaming sports deals like the one it signed with the NFL

Twitter says it can reach the young people TV broadcasters are having trouble finding.

Jonathan Ferrey / Getty Images

Twitter signed a deal with the NFL earlier this month to stream 10 of the league’s games. Now other sports leagues and rights holders are calling to cut similar deals — and Twitter is listening closely.

That’s according to Twitter CFO Anthony Noto, who discussed the company’s interest in licensing deals with other major sports leagues in an interview after Twitter’s Q1 earnings call Tuesday.

Noto wouldn’t name names but said Twitter is in active talks with “the most important and popular” sports leagues in the world in the hope of gathering more streaming rights.

“We’re not just talking to the leagues, we’re also talking to the broadcast partners of the leagues and the cable network partners of the leagues,” he said.

In other words: Twitter wants to cozy up to rights holders that control the kind of high quality video content that Twitter competitors like Facebook and Snapchat are clamoring for.

But hold on. Twitter isn’t really growing. And now its brand marketing partners may be drifting away, too. So what, then, is Twitter’s pitch?

A promise to reach an audience these TV broadcasters aren’t already reaching: Young people who aren’t paying for cable.

“A significant percentage of our audience is 18- to 24-year-olds and 18- to 34-year-olds, and those are the cohorts that have never signed up for pay television or are deciding not to continue with pay television,” Noto explained. “We want to be their digital distribution arm to a younger mobile, global audience.”

The key word there is partner. Twitter promotes itself as a nonthreatening way for these rights holders to generate more eyeballs. And while that may feel like a lot of smoke, Twitter did beat out heavyweights like Amazon and Verizon for NFL streaming rights — even though it bid less than its competitors.

“When the NFL deal was announced, it resonated even louder [with other sports leagues],” Noto said of Twitter’s strategy. “Their pace of negotiation and urgency increased.”

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