NBA Gives Twitter's Video Dreams Major Assist

Of late, Twitter has been naming live-video partners with such frequency that new ones hardly seem worth mentioning.

But a new deal with the NBA just got our attention. 

The league plans to double the number of game highlights it posts to Twitter, Periscope, and Vine. More interesting, however, said highlights will include ads -- the revenue from which the NBA and Twitter will share.

More interesting still, the NBA plans to create two “live original programs” -- which will most likely look a lot like live TV -- to stream exclusively on Twitter.

One’s a weekly NBA pregame show, which will feature what the NBA is calling “first-of-its-kind elements” created specifically for Twitter’s platform. The show will “air” exclusively on Twitter for logged-in and logged-out users.

Meanwhile, neither Twitter nor the NBA are saying much about the other show -- most likely because they haven’t thought it through yet. 

The new deal unintentionally highlights one of the ironies of Twitter’s existence: While it has struggled with user and revenue growth, Twitter’s partners have benefited greatly from its presence.

And, none more than the NBA. Indeed, the league boasts more than 22 million followers, while it recently became the first organization to surpass 2 billion loops on Vine. What’s more, since joining the platform during the Finals 2013, the NBA has built Vine’s largest community among all sports leagues, teams and players, with more than 1.8 million followers.

“We’ve seen technology [i.e., Twitter] bring fans closer to our game, teams and players in ways we could have only imagined a decade ago,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement. 

At some point, you have to imagine that all these live video deals will start paying off for Twitter. I mean, worldwide revenue from mobile video is on track to hit $25 billion by 2021, according to a recent report from Strategy Analytics.

Until then, however, we’ll continue to call these deals wishful experiments.

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