The National Football League (NFL) is partnering with Twitter’s Amplify program to bring its TV ratings juggernaut deeper into the social era. As the first deal of its kind with a social platform, the NFL will expand the reach of its content on Twitter and connect its fans with a limited group of sponsors in the process.
Verizon Wireless, which has already invested $1 billion for an exclusive four-year deal to broadcast NFL games via mobile devices, will also be the lead sponsor for the new initiative. Verizon and other yet-to-be announced sponsors will primarily be featured in ads running alongside NFL content packaged for Twitter’s platform and audience.
“Partnering with Twitter provides the NFL with a unique vehicle to reach millions of highly engaged fans in an environment which will allow trusted partners and sponsors to align with our brand,” comments Brian Rolapp, chief operating officer for NFL Media.
The NFL began packaging its content last week for a seven-day-a-week schedule on Twitter, including in-game highlights, news, analysis, fantasy football advice and other features from NFL Network and NFL.com. The partnership was announced just as the fourth week of the season got underway, but the league plans to continue with less frequent tweets beyond the Super Bowl on February 2, 2014.
“The NFL brand is more than just the premiere sports league in the world, it is creating content that is extremely popular and widely consumed,” notes Adam Bain, president of global revenue at Twitter.
“This partnership brings the best of the NFL to fans on our platform, and allows them to connect and share around their passion for football. The NFL has always been at the forefront of media innovation and this is the next step in that evolution. Having access to this type of highly coveted content on Twitter will not only offer our users a unique programming schedule which will deepen their engagement with our platform but will also provide our sponsors with a value proposition that few other partners can bring to the table,” he notes.
Twitter is showcasing its ability to string conversations between live TV and its platform together as it marches toward an initial public offering in the coming months. Other brands have joined what was formally named the Twitter Amplify program last May, including A&E, Clear Channel, Conde Nast, Discovery, MLB.com, PGA Tour, Variety, Vevo, Vice and more.
Twitter’s managing director of global brand and agency strategy, Jean-Philippe Maheu, called the cross-platform engagement between TV and Twitter a ‘global phenomenon’ during Advertising Week. He also claims that Twitter commands the lion’s share of social-TV interactions, with 95 percent of all public conversations taking place during TV shows on social media occurring on Twitter.
The 2012 regular season was ratings gold once again for the NFL, claiming a reach of 200 million unique viewers, according to Nielsen. Another data point the NFL proudly cites from Nielsen concludes that, for the first time ever, an NFL game was the week’s most-watched TV show in all 17 weeks last season.