Twitter keeps plowing forward in its vision to become a virtual cable TV player — at least for live sports and news.
The social-media company reached a deal with Pac-12 Networks to stream at least 150 games and sporting events over the 2016-17 academic year, with Twitter named the premier streaming partner for Pac-12 Plus, an online network of live events produced by the conference’s 12 member universities.
Twitter does not have exclusive streaming rights: The events, produced by Pac-12 universities, will also be streamed on member universities’ official athletic sites and Pac-12.com.
The pact is the latest in Twitter’s efforts to bring live TV events to the Twittersphere. The company earlier this year landed rights to stream 10 live games on the NFL’s “Thursday Night Football” slate this fall. It also has signed deals with Bloomberg Media to stream three shows and markets coverage and with CBS News to live-stream coverage of the Republican and Democratic national conventions this month.
There’s still a major question of how much traction Twitter’s live TV push will yield, in terms of audience and (by extension) advertising dollars. This month, Twitter soft-launched a test of live sports on the service with Wimbledon although the feed didn’t include any actual live matches. The theory is that it can combine live TV programming with tweets for a unique social-watching experience, but it remains to be seen how broadly appealing that will really be.
The final roster of events shown on Pac-12 Plus have yet to be determined. Those coverage will include Olympic sports such as soccer, volleyball, gymnastics, baseball, ice hockey, swimming and diving, softball, track & field, wrestling, lacrosse, tennis and water polo.
“The Pac-12 Networks’ collaboration with Twitter reflects our ongoing commitment to increasing exposure for Pac-12 universities and their live, school-produced events,” said Pac-12 Networks president Lydia Murphy-Stephans. “By expanding our digital footprint, Pac-12 Plus also allows us to connect more fans with more, live Pac-12 sports content through a platform they use every day.”
“Our partnership with the Pac-12 Networks will give sports fans a great way to view live sporting events along with the live Twitter conversation they are already accustomed to,” said Twitter CFO Anthony Noto.
San Francisco-based Pac-12 Networks is the media company formed by the Pac-12 Conference in 2011. It operates one national and six HD linear networks distributed to pay-TV operators as well as a dedicated digital network. The conference’s member universities are: U. of Arizona, Arizona State U., UC Berkeley, UCLA, U. of Colorado Boulder, U. of Oregon, Oregon State U., USC, Stanford, U. of Utah, U. of Washington and Washington State U.