Twitter Hikes NFL Video Ad Pact, with Delay-of-Game Penalties

Only tweets from NFL Network's Thursday night games will hit Twitter live

Twitter loves to tout the real-time immediacy of its 140-character service — making it ideal for stirring the social conversation about live TV.

But with Twitter’s deal with the National Football League, under which the companies selling ads against video highlights from football games and other content, most of the action will not be hitting Twitter live.

That’s because under the terms of the NFL’s programming deals with Fox, CBS, NBC and ESPN, the league itself doesn’t have rights to distribute game highlights on any social network until after the broadcasts are over. Only in-game highlights from NFL Network’s “Thursday Night Football” match-ups will be tweeted immediately when they happen. (Meanwhile, the TV networks also don’t currently have rights from the NFL to send real-time highlights to social networks, either.)

The NFL deal, which falls under the Twitter Amplify program, comes after the social media company announced a similar agreement with CBS, which plans to sell promoted video tweets for 42 shows and its Internet properties. That makes CBS the biggest TV partner for Twitter.

Twitter is trying to aggressively expand its presence in TV leading up to its expected initial public offering.

Verizon Wireless has signed on as the NFL’s premiere sponsor of Twitter Amplify ads, which represents the league’s first partnership with a social platform. According to the NFL, there will be multiple premiere sponsors of the program throughout the 2013 NFL regular and postseason, including an exclusive sponsorship of the program for Super Bowl XLVIII.

Starting Thursday, the NFL will run a seven-day-a-week content programming schedule on Twitter. That includes in-game highlights from NFL Network’s “Thursday Night Football,” with delayed clips from other regular season and postseason games on other nets. In addition, NFL video packages on Twitter will include news, analysis, fantasy football advice and voting platforms from NFL Network and NFL.com.

“Partnering with Twitter provides the NFL with a unique vehicle to reach millions of highly engaged fans in an environment which will allow trusted partners and sponsors to align with our brand,” Brian Rolapp, chief operating officer for NFL Media, said in a statement.

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