This Friday, Major League Baseball returns to Twitter!
It’s been a crazy year for fans of streaming sports. Last year, Twitter signed a non-exclusive deal to broadcast Thursday Night Football games for the 2016 NFL season. Then, in July, they announced weekly broadcasts out-of-market games from Major League Baseball (MLB) and the National Hockey League (NHL).
For a brief moment in 2016, Twitter was the only digital platform broadcasting content from all four major sports leagues (NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB). Their biggest acquisition was Thursday Night Football; Twitter paid $10 million to acquire the rights from NFL, outbidding both Amazon and Verizon. This year, however, the NFL opted to sign a $50 million contract with Amazon to make their content available on Prime.
Following that announcement, some fans speculated that the NHL and MLB may follow suit, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. This Wednesday, Twitter released their Major League Baseball broadcast schedule. Free Friday night games will be accessible at mlb.twitter.com for viewers around the globe.
Here are the details for the first four games [via CNET]:
- April 7 – Chicago Cubs at Milwaukee Brewers (8:10 p.m.)
- April 14 -New York Mets at Miami Marlins (7:10 p.m.)
- April 21 – Boston Red Sox at Baltimore Orioles (7:05 p.m.)
- April 28 – Cincinnati Reds at St. Louis Cardinals (8:15 p.m.)
[All listings in Eastern Time (ET).]
With the NFL, NHL and MLB seemingly accounted for, many sports fans are wondering what will happen with basketball. While Twitter had acquired the rights to broadcast “non-game programming” from the NBA, the Association is still mostly unaccounted for in the streaming sector.
In January, the NBA streamed their first game on Facebook Live; however, the content was not available in the United States. This was a big move for both the NBA and Facebook. Since then, Facebook has also signed a contract with Major League Soccer (MLS), allowing them to broadcast at least 22 regular-season games. While it seems unlikely that Facebook will compete with Twitter in the immediate future, the two social media giants appear to be on opposite trajectories when it comes to sports streaming.
In 2016, one-in-five people was a “cord-cutter“; and that number is up from just one-in-seven the year before. As companies like the NFL can attest, the move away from traditional cable viewing has led to a tangible drop in ratings. While traditional TV shows have been able to make the move to online quite quickly, sports broadcasting hasn’t been able to transition as effectively. Massive TV deals, like the one the NBA signed with ESPN and Turner in 2014, have made it difficult for the leagues to accommodate online viewers.
While these new contracts are a step in the right direction, it’s still seems unlikely for sports fans to get full coverage online anytime in the near future.