Twitter lands NFL as first sponsored Spaces partner

Twitter has drafted the National Football League to be its first media and advertising partner in , the new live audio hub on the messaging app.

On Thursday, Twitter announced that its longtime relationship with the NFL now includes a Spaces component. The NFL will stream 20 live audio sessions on Twitter during the upcoming 2021 season, Twitter said. The NFL will sell sponsorships to brands, and the brands then spend money to promote the Spaces streams on Twitter, a Twitter spokeswoman said by email. That type of sponsorship is similar to how media, sports and entertainment companies incorporate advertisers into their videos on Twitter.

“The NFL is the first sports league to partner with Twitter to offer Twitter Spaces,” Twitter’s announcement said, “giving both brands and fans new opportunities to connect and engage with live NFL audio.”

Spaces is a core component of Twitter’s revamped ad strategy, which the company enumerated in a recent advertising presentation to brands and ad agencies. Live audio has become a hot medium since the popularity of Clubhouse, which was a breakout app in 2020. Live audio is a way for marketers, podcasters, celebrities, media companies and others to hop into livestreams and talk with fans. Facebook, Spotify, Reddit and Discord are all on the live audio bandwagon.

The NFL is often an early adopter when it comes to new features and products on social media. The NFL has worked with Twitter since 2013, offering video highlights, coverage of the draft, and the Super Bowl is one of Twitter’s biggest days of the year.

“The commitment to Twitter Spaces represents another innovative step forward in the longstanding partnership between the NFL and Twitter,” said Blake Stuchin, NFL’s VP of digital media business development, in the announcement, adding that Spaces gives “NFL fans a new way to engage with live audio ahead of our biggest events.”

Twitter did not disclose the financial terms of its renewed deal with the NFL. Twitter has similar arrangements with other sports leagues like the National Basketball Association, which streams live video of NBA Playoffs.

The NFL also has special partnerships with TikTok, Snapchat, YouTube and Facebook. The NFL has an exclusive deal with Amazon to stream Thursday Night Football games starting in 2022.

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