NFL Thursday Night Football Exclusively On Twitter

For Europeans, watching the NFL is no easy task. Apart from the NFL live, there is very little American football shown on standard television and until the Super Bowl there is no hype in the English or European press.

However, come the start of the new season there will be a brand new way to watch America’s favourite sport. As announced a couple of weeks ago, and to the surprise of every single NFL fan, Twitter will now be the host of Thursday Night Football, streaming the games live and even with pre and post-game shows.

Twitter became owners to the rights after a bidding war with Amazon, Verizon and Facebook. They eventually secured the rights for $10m with ten games being shown valued at $1m each. Although, reportedly Twitter wasn’t actually the highest bidder.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell felt Twitter was the best platform for the progression of the game.

Goodell tweeted

‘Twitter is where live events unfold and is the right partner for the NFL. There is also a massive amount of NFL-related conversation happening on Twitter during our games.’’

It is certainly a bold move, but in terms of coverage and potential popularity increase, it’s huge.

There is no doubt American football is growing in terms of popularity in Europe and especially the UK. Wembley has been tied down to host games until 2020, and Tottenham Hotspur has teamed up with the NFL to host at least two games a year once their new stadium is complete. But the chance for growth is now massive.

Apart from the Super Bowl and these few games, the UK is starved of American football. There are American football leagues across the UK and the BAFA will be thrilled at the idea of getting more young people involved.

Twitter themselves have said that there will be live streaming of the full match as well as a pre-game show and a post-match analysis. In addition, there is also the option of Periscope being used, the live streaming app could potentially bring us behind the scenes footage. We might get to see some of that famous Gatorade being dumped around!

In terms of expanding an audience, this is exactly how to grow. With more and more foreign players flocking to the NFL, and with European leagues in full swing, the popularity of American Football is arguably at its highest in Europe since the NFL Europe daysHowever, what we have really lacked over time is access to the NFL and the stars of the game. The announcement from Twitter and with the possible introduction of Periscope, this could be a game changer.

With the NFL draft in full swing, it will be fascinating to see who moves where and which team goes into the season as favourites. But with possible hype building, this could be the most widespread NFL season ever and will only increase the popularity of our own European leagues.

Currently, most NFL supporters in Europe are seen as ‘couch fans’ and are not seen by many as die-hard fans. But as most of the games will be streamed during the early hours of the morning across Europe, those opinions might just change.

Even at the end of it all if the streaming process doesn’t work it won’t matter too much. It is reported that Mark Zuckerberg is obsessed with live streaming. Facebook pulled out of the bidding for Thursday Night Football for unknown reasons, but it is likely that they are just waiting in the shadows ready to pounce if Twitter fumbles.

A journalism sports graduate from Sheffield University, Edward resides in London. He loves American football and the NFL but writes mainly about soccer. His stories can be found in Thinkfootball and Backpage Football.