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Nobody likes NFL games on Thursday night. Teams don't like them. Players don't like them. The media don't like them. And fans don't like them. Nobody likes NFL games on Thursday night except for the league, and Twitter, apparently.
The ever-evolving social media app allegedly plunked down $10 million for the right to stream 10 Thursday night NFL games during the 2016-17 season. Considering the NFL started the bidding at $250 million, that's a cut-rate price to air a product most people want cut from the schedule entirely.
So why would the NFL choose Twitter when other digital streaming giants like Amazon, Verizon, and even Facebook could've potentially reached more viewers? Possibly to spare the NFL's existing partners like CBS and NBC the competition. As BTIG media analyst Rich Greenfield told The Hollywood Reporter:
"The NFL still has so much financially focused around traditional media outlets ... Their partners are really important to them. Twitter is more of a complement versus a competitor ... The NFL is ensuring the health of the current ecosystem while dangling some future opportunity for the digital world."
For fans, Twitter has become an indispensable resource during games, providing interesting stats, contextual insights, and comedic GIFs the network broadcasts often lack. Exactly how the games will be integrated into Twitter's feed remains to be seen.
Both entities have come under fire recently, but for different reasons. Investors have been hounding Twitter to create more revenue streams after watching the company's stock price tank 66.5 percent over the last 12 months. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey praised the deal, saying it's "about transforming the fan experience with football. People watch NFL games with Twitter today, now they'll be able to watch right on Twitter Thursday nights."
The NFL has had no such revenue worries, but its perception with the public has been on a downward trajectory since the prevalence of concussions and CTE among players and its connection to the sport became publicized. The class action lawsuit from former players, which continues to drag on, doesn't help matters.
Twitter has been accused of not doing enough to protect users from abuse. The NFL has been accused of not doing enough to protect its players from injury. They make the perfect pair to inflict the damage of Thursday night games upon us all.
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