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Twitter to stream Thursday night NFL games in 2016 season

The National Football League said it had chosen Twitter as its exclusive global partner for streaming its Thursday night games during the 2016 regular season.

Twitter, whose shares were up about 1 percent in early trading Tuesday before reversing to end down modestly, will stream 10 games for free, the NFL said in a statement.

The deal also includes in-game highlights as well as pregame broadcasts from players and teams on Periscope, Twitter's live-streaming video service.

Twitter outbid a number of companies, including Verizon Communications, Yahoo, and Amazon.com to win the deal, according to Bloomberg, which first reported the news. Facebook dropped out of the bidding last week, the report said.

The terms of the deal were not announced, but technology news website Re/code, citing people familiar with the bidding process, reported that Twitter had paid less than $10 million. (Disclosure: CNBC parent NBCUniversal is an investor in Re/code's parent Vox Media. Re/code and NBC have a content-sharing arrangement.)

"On both sides, the NFL and Twitter are both looking at this as an experiment," Chris Bevilacqua, former CEO at CAA Sports Media Ventures, told CNBC's "Closing Bell" on Tuesday. "There are a lot of people who are consuming mobile content on these platforms."

The NFL signed a multiyear partnership with Twitter last year to deliver video and other content to fans on a daily basis.


The previous partnership, which expanded the NFL's existing partnership with Twitter, included in-game highlights from pre-season through Super Bowl 50.

Anthony Noto, Twitter's current chief financial officer, also held the same position at the NFL between 2008 and 2010.

Up to Monday's close of $17.09, Twitter's shares had fallen 26 percent this year. The company's shares hit an all-time low in February after the company said its user growth stalled for the first time since it went public in 2013.

Facebook, Yahoo, Verizon and Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment, while Twitter did not provide further details on the deal.

The NFL said in February it would split the broadcast rights for its Thursday night games between CBS and NBC, a unit of Comcast. (Disclosure: Comcast is the parent of NBCUniversal and CNBC.)

The NFL will get a total of about $450 million from CBS and NBC for the rights to broadcast 10 games in 2016 and 2017, The Wall Street Journal had reported in February.

— CNBC's Denise Garcia contributed to this story.