Twitter has been on the hunt for sports rights to add to its live-streaming portfolio, and the company announced Monday (July 25) that it will now be able to stream weekly out-of-market Major League Baseball and National Hockey League games to its users for free.
The rights to stream the games are the result of a newly formed partnership between Twitter and MLB Advanced Media, a digital distribution company. The pact will also include the creation of a nightly multi-sports highlights show called “The Rally”.
“Twitter is the fastest way to see what’s unfolding in MLB and the NHL,” Anthony Noto, Twitter’s chief financial officer, said in a press release. “MLBAM has pioneered streaming live digital video and we could not be more excited to partner with them on live games as well as ‘The Rally’, giving our audience the live sports events they are already talking about on one screen on Twitter.”
The weekly MLB and NHL games will be available to logged-in and logged-out users in the United States, but a schedule will be provided at a later date.
“The Rally” will be produced by 120 Sports and will feature highlights and expert analysis for multiple sports exclusively on Twitter. The show will utilize Twitter-generated data to determine live trending topics, and the micro-blogging platform will allow for instant conversation among sports fans.
“We know fans will embrace what this wide-ranging partnership brings – expanded and reliable access to live baseball and hockey and the introduction of Twitter’s first daily live highlight show delivered intuitively to a platform where they’re actively engaged with the games,” Kenny Gersh, MLBAM’s executive vice president of business, said in a press release.
With the MLB and NHL now in tow, Twitter has partnerships with all four major North American sports leagues. Earlier this year, the NFL announced that Twitter will be the exclusive streaming partner for 10 Thursday Night Football games during the 2016 season. And earlier this month, the NBA revealed plans for a weekly NBA pregame show on the social media network with “first-of-its-kind” elements, though no further details have been provided.
But it doesn’t stop in the professional ranks. Twitter has reached similar agreements for access to college games, including contests in the Pac-12, Mountain West, Patriot League and West Coast conferences.
The increased emphasis on live streaming comes at a time when the company’s growth has slowed significantly, with the number of users worldwide stalling at around 320 million, according to The New York Times. The company hopes the live events will attract more users who may have never thought about creating an account in the past.
Live sports programming is gold for television networks, but it will be interesting to see if Twitter will reap similar benefits.