Twitter jockeys for role in A-League broadcast rights negotiations

Twitter is priming itself to play a central role on the upcoming battle for the rights to broadcast soccer in Australia, but has vowed it does not want to be a “disruptor”.

Twitter ready to play a role in the FFA broadcast rights negotiations

Jonno Simpson says Twitter wants to play a role in football programming

Jonno Simpson, head of partnerships and food at Twitter Australia, told Mumbrella that the FFA broadcast rights hunt would be the first time Twitter had joined in the negotiation process for sporting rights locally.

The tender for the broadcast rights to the Hyundai A-League closes on Friday, with the FFA hoping to realise as much as $80m per season amid increased interest from free-to-air broadcasters.

The social media network has worked closely with the Seven Network in Australia, with its first major sports streaming event the Melbourne Cup, while in the US it has a $10m deal to broadcast the NFL’s Thursday Night Football.

Twitter a "player" in FFA broadcast right's negotiations

Twitter a “player” in FFA broadcast right’s negotiations

Simpson said the FFA negotiations would be a good test bed.

The outcome could also be a pointer to how the platform might approach the next rounds of AFL and NRL rights negotiations, with Twitter’s proposition that it could drive incremental reach and revenue to broadcasters and sporting bodies.

“We are part of the discussions, no doubt. We want to be part of the discussion because the amount of football or soccer conversation on Twitter is huge in this country and we want to be part of that and we want to deliver the best experience to users,” Simpson said.

“This is clearly premium content that we want to deliver.”

He stressed that Twitter wanted to be a partners to both the FFA and the broadcasters that ultimately secure the rights.

Simpson added: “We are part of the conversation but I think we are coming in to be partners and I hate using this word, but we are not coming in as a disruptor. That is not who we are. We will come in and work with the rights holders.”

He admitted that Twitter would never be a bidder for exclusive rights, like Optus did to snatch the English Premier League away from Fox Sports.

“We can then come in and augment and supplement and complement what they are doing with their rights,” he said.

He said rather than taking a singular approach to the negotiations, Twitter would work with each of the bidders ahead of them submitting their tenders, as well as non-broadcast rights holders such as telcos and the FFA, to find the best approach.

“I think we are in a good position where we have partnerships and relationships across everybody and they all know who we are, where we are and what we can do,” he said.

“I think having seen the Thursday Night Football, having seen the Melbourne Cup, they are aware of how it works, that it does work, that there is revenue to be had and we are serious player in the conversation.

“I think it’s all about us being able to deliver that incremental reach and that incremental revenue and trying to reach a different audience, or the same audience that is complementing the broadcaster.”

Twitter's NFL deal about extending fan engagement across the week

Twitter’s NFL deal about extending fan engagement across the week

Simpson said like the NFL and Melbourne Cup deals, any future deals on sports streaming on Twitter would also be around shoulder programming.

“What happens outside the live stream is just as valuable and important to fans as what happens in the live stream,” he said.

He said that where Twitter was proving valuable was in extending the relationship with fans across a longer time frame than just the streamed event itself.

“If you are only talking to them across three hours on a Saturday afternoon, that’s not a good relationship,” he said.

“You need to have that relationship for the entire week, so I think that’s what we can being to the table is the understanding of fan’s behaviour. Twitter can deliver really interesting insights into what fans want.”


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