The Buffalo Bills and New York Jets will make some history when they kick off on Thursday night.
Not on the field, but on your phone.
The game between the AFC East rivals will be streamed live on Twitter, meaning millions around the world can watch the live game action from their smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices.
The NFL had a similar venture with Yahoo for a game last season, but the league signed a deal with Twitter in April to deliver 10 Thursday night games through the mobile app.
Twitter also announced on Wednesday that its app will be available on Xbox One, Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV, just in time for the first NFL game.
Here is a look at the details and what it means for fans around the world:
Streaming live television is becoming more of a trend in recent years, with some consumers preferring to cut their cable television subscriptions in favor of viewing their favorite programs through the internet. This occasionally takes away the option of watching the program live as it airs, but not in the case of Twitter’s agreement with the NFL.
To access the stream, you don’t even need a Twitter account. Simply open Twitter’s mobile app or go to twitter.com, click on the “moments” tab and it will show up on the screen . Viewers will see the same broadcast production — same announcers, camera angles, etc. — as those who tune in to CBS on television to watch the game.
For those who would rather stream the game on a larger screen than their handheld phones or tablets, Xbox One, Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV are now equipped with the Twitter app to use on television screens.
For those who want to watch the old fashioned way, the game is still available on TV via CBS and on the NFL Network.
While the production quality and most other components of the broadcast itself will be identical to the one viewed on CBS, those watching through Twitter will see curated tweets related to the game running alongside the video.
Twitter has long billed itself as the “second screen” for the TV viewer, with users having a live, running conversation and commentary about what they are watching on their phones as a companion to the content they are viewing on TV.
This stream will marry the two screens, allowing users to tweet away to their heart’s content while never having to take their eyes off the ball.
Twitter paid more than $10 million for the chance to stream the 10 games. In contrast, CBS and NBC are paying $45 million per game for the Thursday night package and Yahoo reportedly paid nearly double that just for the Jaguars-Bills game in London last year.
The NFL is not known for offering discounts, but Twitter’s user base of more than 313 million people worldwide may have helped the company secure the bid. All of the advertising during the streamed version will be the same as those ads aired on television, save for a few that Twitter was able to sell itself.
While more and more people are leaving cable television for streaming services, the audiences are still small in comparison. The Yahoo game last year in London averaged a worldwide audience of about 2.4 million viewers, but that game was blacked out on television for any viewers outside the local markets of Buffalo and Jacksonville.
To compare, a Jets-Dolphins game from London last year televised on CBS drew 9.9 million viewers in the U.S. alone.
But the NFL is banking on Twitter’s international reach to help draw in audiences from around the world that the league has spent years trying to cultivate.
The short-message service has had difficulty monetizing its popularity. The company has yet to turn a profit despite the hundreds of millions of people who use their product, so hitching itself to the all-powerful NFL is a leverage play to increase the eyeballs and advertisers.