(from Sports Business Journal, October 21, 2013) The recent Twitter deal that NFL has legislated is causing annoyance among TV networks. The agreement allows NFL to tweet highlights throughout the week, but not during telecasts. Network executives are concerned because they say it draws people away from watching since viewers can see results and top plays via Twitter on hand-held devices.
In addition network executives are frustrated because last season they were told by NFL that they couldn’t use the twitter “bird symbol” when sharing tweets of players because it was considered a form of in-game sponsorship. Industry consultant and President of Desser Sports Media, Ed Desser, stated, “The reality is that the NFL is so strong they don’t have to kowtow to their media partners…they can do what they want.”
The deal between Twitter and NFL, along with easy access to in-game highlights on NFL.com and the four year deal with Verizon (which will show football games on wireless devices beginning in 2014) is worrying network executives. The number of fans watching games on television has the potential to greatly decrease.
Although NFL executives acknowledge the complaints, they believe that the deals complement the broadcasts on TV networks. Ratings are solid for Fox and the NFL Network but flat for CBS and ESPN after the first four weeks of the 2013-2014 season. NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” is experiencing a decline in ratings. For the past two years, it had been the highest-rated prime-time series for broadcast television. Hans Schroeder, Senior Vice President of Media Strategy and Development of the NFL, suggested, “As we try new distribution on new platforms, we’re mindful of the core business and want to see ratings growth.”