Twitter's surprising deal to stream NFL games may have been the result of a dispute between the sports league and the world's largest social network — Facebook.
Several sources with knowledge of the NFL's thinking said the league's decision to partner with Twitter to stream 10 games next season may have been due to arguments with Facebook over how much its games are worth.
The sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the NFL felt that Facebook undervalued content rights and has a poor monetization model. The sources added that while Facebook does have a large audience and Facebook Live's platform is promising, its ability to get revenue from livestreaming — as well as the product's capability — is still evolving, whereas Twitter's product is ready for primetime.
One digital media strategist for sports leagues agreed, saying it was a widespread sports-world sentiment that Facebook video ad revenue was "a little underwhelming from what was expected."
However, a source with knowledge of Facebook's thinking said the social network was the one to back out of the NFL's offer, not the other way around. The main point of contention was over the value of the nonexclusive livestreamed games, which are also widely available on TV. Amazon also backed out of the deal, leaving Twitter as one of the the last players standing, the source added. A spokesman for the NFL strongly disputed this claim.