During the 2015 season, the NFL experimented with the airing of a regular season game, the International Series contest between the Buffalo Bills and Jacksonville Jaguars, online, with the stream carried by Yahoo. There was speculation that the league was looking to expand online streaming in 2016, and, according to an announcement on Tuesday, that will happen.
Twitter was the surprising winner of bids for the online rights to Thursday Night Football. Amazon, Verizon, and Facebook were also reported to be in the running for the online rights. The deal, according to Re/Code, was for less than $10 million. Re/code adds that the league and Twitter are still working out possibilities that the games can be streamed via Twitter's syndication partners, which could include Google and Yahoo.
Yahoo reportedly paid $20 million for the single game stream last year. That game, however, was not broadcast on television, except in the two teams' local markets.
"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", said 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."
The Thursday Night Football package this year will consist of 16 games, all of which will be broadcast on NFL Network. The first 10 games will be split, five each, with simultaneous television broadcasts by CBS and NBC, which can also stream the games on their websites.