- The NFL and Twitter announced a multiyear partnership extension that includes a commitment from the league to produce content for the platform's new live audio feature Twitter Spaces.
- More than 20 Spaces are planned as part of the full-season pact and will draw on current NFL players and other league talent and air around marquee events, including the draft, season kickoff and Super Bowl. The NFL is the first sports league to offer sponsored Twitter Spaces to brands.
- As part of the agreement, Twitter will also produce curated videos featuring highlights from the week that provide "first-of-its-kind opportunities for brands" and expand its Twitter Polls initiative to let fans vote on hot topics and takes. Twitter's long-standing arrangement with the league could pay out more as social and digital become a larger part of pro football's media strategy.
The NFL is placing a larger bet on live audio as part of its continued partnership with Twitter, which stretches back to 2013. A season-long commitment to Twitter Spaces — and the promise of new opportunities for brands to connect with fans therein — reads as a potential snub of Clubhouse. The league earlier this year tapped Clubhouse for exclusive live programming around the NFL Draft, a smaller-scale activation that still signaled bigger plans for mobile content.
Clubhouse brought the live audio spaces concept into the mainstream, serving as an invitation-only app for hosting discussions after in-person speaking events were waylaid by the coronavirus pandemic. But the platform, reportedly valued at $4 billion, has faced increasingly fierce competition. Twitter launched Spaces in May as a way for users to host more "intimate conversations" while Facebook last month started rolling out its own copycat. Clubhouse has struck other sports partnerships and attracted brand interest, but in the case of the NFL, Twitter could hold the advantage given its deeper history with the league.
Some media watchers are skeptical of whether the live audio concept will stick around once live events open back up at scale. Clubhouse reportedly saw app installs on iOS steeply drop off earlier this year as vaccinations started to pick up, although the company finally brought its platform to Android in May, notching a sizable audience of new users.
The NFL continues to diversify its media bets as social and streaming become more significant means of fan engagement. Beyond the arrangements with Clubhouse and Twitter, the organization has a long-running tie-up with Snapchat and has started to bring video-sharing app TikTok more frequently into its playbook. In March, the NFL struck a landmark deal with Amazon that gives the e-commerce giant exclusive rights to broadcast 15 Thursday Night Football games and one pre-season match per year in the U.S. The 11-year pact with Prime Video, initially set to go into effect in 2023, was recently bumped up to commence with the 2022 season.