With the success of last season's stream of Bills-Jaguars from London still ringing in the NFL's proverbial ears, it was only a matter of time until the league took the next step toward making its product even more accessible to the public. This morning, the NFL announced that the vehicle for the evolution of its streaming product would be Twitter, and that the majority of its Thursday Night Football schedule in 2016 would provide the content, free of charge. From the NFL's press release:
The National Football League (NFL) announced today that it has selected Twitter (NYSE:TWTR) as its exclusive partner to deliver a live OTT digital stream of Thursday Night Football to a global audience across devices and for free during the course of the 2016 NFL Regular Season. Twitter will stream the 10 Thursday Night Football games broadcast by NBC and CBS, which will also be simulcast on NFL Network, securing the league’s "Tri-Cast" distribution model of broadcast (NBC/CBS), cable (NFL Network), and digital (Twitter).
Partners since 2013 through the Twitter Amplify program, the NFL and Twitter will provide free, live streaming video of Thursday Night Football without authentication to the over 800 Million registered and non-registered users worldwide on the Twitter platform on mobile phones, tablets, PCs and connected TVs.
The NFL's television partners have to be getting nervous with the league's growing emphasis on streaming, don't they? It's not going to happen overnight, but it's not unreasonable to think that we are heading toward a world where sporting contests are just as easy to watch online as they are on broadcast television.