SAN FRANCISCO — Twitter is hoping that its next shot at attracting more users turns out to be an easy layup instead of an air ball.
On Tuesday, Twitter and the National Basketball Association announced an expansion of their partnership that includes the creation of exclusive and original programming specifically for the social media site. The highlight of the deal is a new, weekly NBA pregame show that will be streamed on Twitter with what the NBA called “first-of-its-kind elements.”
The NBA said it will also launch a second Twitter program that is still in development, and offer behind-the-scenes videos, news conferences and other content that will run on the Vine and Periscope apps, which are owned by Twitter.
“This expanded partnership will help feed our fans’ growing demand for the NBA by more deeply integrating the league across Twitter’s many platforms,” said NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, in a statement announcing the deal.
What the deal doesn’t include is the digital-streaming of actual, live NBA games. That content is controlled by the league’s broadcast partners and regional sports networks such as CSN Bay Area, which carries most of the Golden State Warriors games. The NBA’s current TV deal with ABC, TNT and ESPN, valued at $24 billion, runs through the 2024-2025 season.
Financial terms of Twitter’s deal with the NBA weren’t disclosed. Twitter is expected to sell ads that will be carried during the NBA programming and split advertising revenue with the league.
“I think Twitter’s trying to test certain NBA content and see what gets people’s attention,” said Neil Doshi, an analyst who covers Twitter for Mizuho Securities. “They’re trying to position themselves much more deeply with live video, and this could be the identity Twitter has needed.”
The NBA deal is the latest in a string of sports content partnerships that Twitter has secured this year.
In April, Twitter signed on to stream Thursday night National Football League games this fall. That deal, estimated to be worth $10 million, includes Twitter live-streaming 10 weeks of Thursday night NFL games for the upcoming season.
Earlier this month, Twitter live-streamed some Wimbledon tennis matches, and on July 14, Twitter announced a deal to become the streaming partner of Pac-12 Plus, a broadband network of live sporting events set up by the Pac-12 Network. Under that partnership, Twitter will stream at least 150 games from Pac-12 universities during the 2016-2017 school year.
The emphasis on live-streaming original and exclusive content comes as the market for such offerings is getting more competitive, with the likes of Facebook paying some celebrities to produce content for its Facebook Live video service.
Twitter is also trying to combat slowing growth rates in its monthly users, which has led to some speculation about the company’s direction. In April, Twitter said it had 310 million monthly active users during the first quarter of the year. However, that figure rose by just 8 million users, or 3 percent from the first quarter of 2015, and was up by only 2 percent from the fourth quarter of last year. Twitter is scheduled to report its second-quarter results on July 26.
Twitter shares fell 1.7 percent to close Tuesday at $18.33. The company’s stock has rallied over the last month, as Twitter shares have risen 26 percent since June 13 when Microsoft said it would acquire LinkedIn for $26.2 billion. That deal led to speculation that Twitter might be an acquisition target.
“The general view on Twitter is that the stock’s had a nice run in the last few weeks,” Doshi said. “There’s still a belief that they could be a buyout candidate.”
Contact Rex Crum at 408-278-3415. Follow him on Twitter.com/rexcrum