Twitter launches Wimbledon service ahead of NFL contract

Social media company Twitter has commenced a live streaming service for the Wimbledon tennis grand slam as it prepares for its first major sports rights deal with American football league the NFL.

The UK grand slam’s official Twitter account tweeted the live feed yesterday (Wednesday), with the ‘Live @ Wimbledon’ page offering a video stream pinned to the top of the page, with a rolling list of tournament-related tweets running alongside.

The Recode website said Twitter worked with both Wimbledon and US sports broadcaster ESPN to commence the service. ESPN acquired exclusive US broadcast rights to Wimbledon in 2011, and the stream on Twitter includes a mix of content from the tournament organiser and ESPN.

Twitter said in a statement to Recode: “Twitter is increasingly a place where people can find live streaming video, and that includes exciting sporting events like Wimbledon. This livestream is an extremely early and incomplete test experience, and we'll be making lots of improvements before we launch it in its final form.”

In April, the NFL selected Twitter as its exclusive partner to deliver a live over-the-top digital stream of Thursday Night Football games to a global audience across all devices and for free during the course of the 2016 regular season.

Twitter will stream the 10 Thursday Night Football games broadcast by the NBC and CBS networks, which will also be simulcast on cable television broadcaster NFL Network, securing the league’s targeted ‘tri-cast’ distribution model of broadcast, cable and digital platforms.

The NFL and Twitter will provide free, live streaming video of Thursday Night Football without authentication to the over 800 million registered and non-registered users worldwide on the Twitter platform on mobile phones, tablets, PCs and connected televisions.

In addition to live streaming video of NFL action, the partnership includes in-game highlights from TNF as well as pre-game broadcasts from players and teams via Twitter’s Periscope service.