For a second straight year, the National Women’s Hockey League has partnered with Twitter for the rights to stream live games. The deal includes 16 regular season games, the 2019 NWHL All-Star Game, and the Isobel Cup Playoffs.
Broadcasts will be produced by the NWHL and will stream globally for free on the league’s Twitter account. Users will not be asked to log in to access the live stream according to an NWHL press release. The live stream on Twitter will also include advertising packages with digital ad spots as part of a collaborated marketing and promotions effort between Twitter and the NWHL.
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“Twitter has been an invaluable partner to us, and we’re delighted to present the Twitter Game of the Week for our second season,” said NWHL Founder and Commissioner Dani Rylan in the announcement. “Twitter has helped significantly increase the NWHL audience and given our professional women’s hockey players a deserving global spotlight.”
Last year’s Isobel Cup Final, attracted an audience of more than 900,000 fans on Twitter, and the All-Star Game drew 580,000 Twitter viewers, according to the press release. The 2018/19 NWHL regular season opener will stream on Twitter on Saturday, Oct. 6 at 5:00 p.m. ET when the Metropolitan Riveters visit the Minnesota Whitecaps.
“We are excited for the return of live NWHL games this season to Twitter,” said TJ Adeshola, Twitter’s Head of US Sports Partnerships. “Passionate hockey fans around the globe will continue to be able to view live exciting game action along with the robust conversation all in one place on Twitter.”
For sports fans, the ability to stream games via social networks such as Twitter or Facebook has opened up a new type of viewing experience. Users are able to add real-time comments in the game window to chat with other fans watching the stream. MLB has also been experimenting with streaming on social media. This past season, it streamed games exclusively for the Facebook Watch platform, although the initial launch received mixed reviews from fans.
Streaming games for free is a way for a young league such as the NWHL (established in 2015) to build up its fan base. A recent Nielsen report found that 84 percent of general sports fans are interested in women’s sports, and thus the market opportunity is large.