The NFL’s deal with Snapchat is a glimpse of the future

Photograph by Andrew Harrer — Bloomberg/Getty Images

In a world where sports-related content seems to be one of the few remaining things that large numbers of people will actually pay for, leagues like the NFL and MLB are becoming increasingly powerful. And they are looking further afield than just the usual streaming or cable partners, to new platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat, as a way of broadening their reach and finding new audiences.

In one of the more recent examples of this trend, the National Football League announced on Thursday that it has signed a partnership deal with Snapchat to create original content and share advertising revenue.

Unlike some of Snapchat’s other partnerships with media entities, which involve official content on its “Discover” platform, the NFL deal is part of Snapchat’s “Live Stories” feature. This service allows users to create their own photos and videos and then share that with other users, and Live Stories around certain news events have generated massive amounts of mobile viewership.

According to a news release on the agreement, each NFL Live Story will be curated by Snapchat and will “provide an experience that captures the energy and excitement” from NFL events, through a mix of “fan-submitted Snaps and official inside-access content.” The league and Snapchat will be offering brands the opportunity to advertise within a Live Story, and will share the revenue from those ads.

NFL Snapchat

What the NFL won’t be providing to Snapchat is live game footage, perhaps in part because it already has a deal to provide that kind of content to Twitter. The league just signed a new two-year partnership agreement with the real-time news service that extends an arrangement it has had for the past couple of years.

While the Twitter deal includes game highlight video clips and promoted tweets, the focus for the NFL’s Snapchat partnership seems to be access to behind-the-scenes content, along with fan-created snaps. Presumably the Live Stories that are curated by Snapchat as part of the deal will filter out the video highlights.

Interestingly, although it is exploring these new partnerships with platforms like Snapchat and extending its relationship with Twitter, the league recently ended a similar type of arrangement with Facebook, in which it supplied video highlights of games to the social network that were monetized via Verizon post-roll ads.

According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, the two sides couldn’t agree on terms for continuing their relationship, another sign of how jealously the NFL guards its video content. And with its own official YouTube channel (which launched earlier this year) and new platforms like Snapchat to experiment with, it is clearly relishing its newfound power as a media entity in its own right.

For more details on the various different ways you can get access to the NFL content you’re looking for, check out this comprehensive streaming guide from my colleague Dan Roberts.

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