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Twitter to Stream 10 NFL Thursday Games Without Authentication

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In a surprising move, the National Football League (NFL) announced today that it has selected Twitter as its partner to stream 10 Thursday night games during the 2016 season. The decision is about harnessing the messaging platform's reach: Twitter will stream the games without authentication requirements, so any interested viewers can watch.

Neither company divulged how much Twitter had paid for the rights, but ReCode, citing unnamed sources, said the figure was under $10 million. Twitter outbid Yahoo, Amazon, Verizon, and Facebook to get the rights. While the amount seems low (Yahoo paid $20 million to stream one game last season), the Twitter stream will show broadcast network ads during the game. Twitter will only sell commercials during the spots left for local affiliates. Twitter benefits by paying less, while the networks benefit by reaching more viewers.

Besides streaming the 10 games, Twitter will also stream Thursday Night Football highlights as part of the agreement, and will host live pre-game broadcasts on Periscope that showcase the teams and their players.

“Twitter is where live events unfold and is the right partner for the NFL as we take the latest step in serving fans around the world live NFL football,” says NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. “There is a massive amount of NFL-related conversation happening on Twitter during our games and tapping into that audience, in addition to our viewers on broadcast and cable, will ensure Thursday Night Football is seen on an unprecedented number of platforms this season. This agreement also provides additional reach for those brands advertising with our broadcast partners.”

NBC and CBS have the broadcast rights to the 10 games, while NFL Network holds the cable distribution rights.

This isn't the first time the NFL has worked with Twitter. In August 2015 the two companies signed a two-year agreement to share breaking news and highlights videos. Prior to that, the NFL worked with the Twitter Amplify program.

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