By Barry Janoff
July 25, 2016: Calling it the "fastest way to see what's happening in sports," Twitter continues its march into the category with a deal to live-stream weekly out-of-market games from MLB and the NHL.
In addition, OTT network 120 Sports will produce a nightly multi-sports highlights show, The Rally, the first show of its kind to be streamed live on Twitter.
The MLB, NHL and 120 Sports streaming rights come through Twitter's new partnership with MLB Advanced Media.
The alliance comes days after Twitter unveiled a digital media rights partnership with Campus Insiders, anchored by the live streaming of more than 300 college sports events.
In addition, Twitter and the NBA earlier this month expanded and enhanced their alliance to include exclusive original live programs to begin with the 2016-17 season.
This past April, Twitter signed a deal with the NFL to stream live Thursday Night Football games, beginning this season.
Financial terms of the deals were not disclosed.
"Twitter is the fastest way to see what's happening in sports," Anthony Noto, Twitter's chief financial officer, said in a statement. "Our partnership with Campus Insiders will bring live streaming video of college sports directly to the people who are already talking about it on Twitter, all on a single screen."
The MLB and NHL games will be available free to logged-in and logged-out Twitter users in the U.S.
MLB games will also be available worldwide, except in select international territories. A schedule for the MLB and NHL games will be available at a later date.
The NBA, which joined Twitter in 2009, has more than 22.4 million followers worldwide, tops among sports leagues worldwide, according to Twitter. (Figures do not include team, player or other NBA-related accounts.)
The NFL is second (19.4 million), followed by the Champions League and Premier League (about 12 million followers each).
Among other leagues, WWE has 7.7 million followers, MLB 6 million, NHL 4.9 million, UFC 4.2 million, Nascar 2.9 million and MLS 2.4 million, per Twitter.
Among teams, Real Madrid (20.1 million) and FC Barcelona (18.1 million) have by far the most worldwide followers.
Twitter Sports has more than 14.3 million followers.
According to Kenny Gersh, evp-business for MLBAM, "Twitter has long been a great partner and platform for both baseball and hockey fans as they follow their favorite teams and players every day. We know fans will embrace what this wide-ranging partnership brings — expanded and reliable access to live baseball and hockey and the introduction of Twitter's first daily live highlight show delivered intuitively to a platform where they're actively engaged with the games."
Echoed Stephen McArdle, NHL evp-digital media and strategic planning, "Twitter has become a crucial forum and engagement tool for hockey fans to enhance their NHL viewing experience and stay connected to the game on and off the ice. We are excited that fans will now be able to enjoy live NHL games through our partnership with Twitter."
"Twitter has long been a great partner and platform for both baseball and hockey fans as they follow their favorite teams and players."
The Rally will include highlights and "expert perspective across multiple sports exclusively" to Twitter users in the U.S. The program will utilize a distinct format "designed to integrate with Twitter's platform, using Twitter-based data to determine live trending topics as well as adding other interactive elements for instant conversation and analysis.
"The Rally on Twitter will combine the production and editorial values of television with the speed and interactivity of digital media," Jason Coyle, 120 Sports president, said in a statement. "We are excited to bring this first-of-its-kind programming to Twitter as we continue the push of 120 Sports beyond the limitations of traditional media, infusing real-time, scaled fan sentiment and feedback into the sports conversation every night."
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