clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Twitter will livestream some MLB and NHL games starting this fall

It also signed up another made-for-Twitter “TV” show.

Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Twitter has acquired the rights to stream broadcasts for a handful of Major League Baseball and National Hockey League games beginning sometime this fall, the company announced Monday.

The streaming rights were acquired through a new deal with Major League Baseball Advanced Media, pro baseball’s media and video streaming business, which owns the digital rights for both leagues.

Twitter will stream one MLB and one NHL game per week, and the broadcasts will be free to watch with or without a Twitter account. It hasn’t been decided which games the company will get, but Twitter won’t have access to nationally televised games, which includes playoff games.

Instead it will show what are called "out-of-market" games, which means that if you’re in the local TV market for one of the teams that’s playing, you won’t be able to watch the stream on Twitter. So you could sit in New York and watch the S.F. Giants play the L.A. Dodgers, for example, but you wouldn’t have access to the game in San Francisco or Los Angeles.

The deal also includes a made-for-Twitter program called "The Rally," which sounds (at least on paper) like an analysis and highlight show akin to ESPN’s "SportsCenter." That show will stream live on Twitter each night and will be produced by digital sports network 120 Sports.

That means Twitter has now secured three separate made-for-Twitter programs that will begin streaming on the platform sometime this fall. The other two came from a deal the company secured with the NBA last week.

As part of the MLBAM deal, Twitter will show ads during the MLB and NHL broadcasts. It has guaranteed MLBAM an undisclosed sum of money in ad revenue, and once that guarantee is met, the two sides will split any additional ad money. That’s a similar format to what Twitter set up with the NBA.

It’s also worth noting here that Disney, which controls ESPN, is talking to MLBAM about buying a one third stake of the company for more than $1 billion. That means this MLBAM partnership could ultimately be an MLBAM plus Disney partnership for Twitter.

ESPN controls all kinds of TV and digital streaming rights for some of the most popular sports in the world (see: NFL, NBA, MLB), so that could end up being a helpful relationship.

Twitter has announced more than a half-dozen of these types of streaming deals in the past month, including ones with the NBA, Pac-12, CBS and Bloomberg. The company is essentially assembling a mini-cable network, complete with an assortment of TV-like video content that you can watch for free over the internet.

The hope is that people who would not otherwise come to Twitter will come to watch these broadcasts.

The challenge is getting stuff people actually want to watch. The crown jewel of Twitter’s collection is 10 of the NFL’s "Thursday Night Football" games. Much of the other content it’s secured is not must-see TV.

Monday’s deal with MLBAM is probably somewhere in between. Twitter is getting live sports, which have become the holy grail of live TV, but hockey ratings are usually lousy, and baseball — unlike the NFL — tends to be a regional sport. That means people often watch their home-town team and not much else. How many Twitter users in Dallas will tune in to watch the Cincinnati Reds take on the Chicago Cubs? Not many, I’d guess.

Still, Twitter has amassed an interesting collection of broadcasts, and maybe people are looking for a place to watch free video streams they can’t find anywhere else. If Twitter can become the go-to place to watch second-tier TV content, maybe that’s enough to help boost its user and revenue numbers.

This article originally appeared on