Thursday Night Football will be streamed live on Twitter in 2016, the NFL announced Tuesday morning.
The 10 Thursday night games will be broadcast by NBC and CBS and simulcast on NFL Network, but the addition of Twitter streaming those games adds another option for fans looking to view the games for free on mobile phones, tablets, computers or connected TVs.
The Twitter feed will provide in-game highlights, pregame Periscope broadcasts from players and teams, and postgame content.
“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,” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in a press release. “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.”
Twitter beat out bids from Verizon Communications, Yahoo! and Amazon, according to Bloomberg, which broke the story Monday night. Facebook reportedly dropped out of the bidding last week.
Last season, the NFL partnered with Yahoo! to deliver a free, global live stream of a regular-season NFL game, the first time users could access the NFL’s premium content worldwide, without authentication. When the Buffalo Bills faced the Jacksonville Jaguars in London last October, fans streamed over 480 million minutes of the game, with 33 percent of streams coming in internationally, across 185 countries worldwide, according to the NFL.
The NFL has been trying to beef up its international presence and Twitter could be another outlet to expose the league to countries that don’t normally see games live.
For the 16 games of the 2015 schedule, Thursday Night Football on CBS and NFL Network drew an average of 13 million viewers, up about 60 percent from 2013 when the games were solely on NFL Network. The 2015 season was the most-watched and highest-rated Thursday Night Football season ever.