Sports Internet live-streaming has just become a little more mainstream with the NFL and NHL officially getting into the game.

Twitter has won the rights to stream NFL games. The social media site will stream 10 Thursday night football games (the games will still be shown on NBC, CBS, NFLN) during the 2016 season. No word on how Twitter will be integrating the feature but it’s been speculated that it could fit under the site’s Moments feature.

The NFL is using Thursday night games, which draws a smaller audience, as it’s guinea pig to see how digital distribution works. Things could get interesting in 2021 when the NFL’s current broadcast contracts expire.

Similarly, the NHL and Yahoo! recently announced a partnership to live-stream NHL games for free and with no subscription required. The partnership allows Yahoo! to air up to four NHL games a week.

“This alliance brings us one step closer to providing fans a live professional sporting event every day, on Yahoo, completely frictionless and for free — no cable subscription or authentication required.”
— Phil Lynch, vice president of media partnerships, Yahoo

Yahoo! also has partnerships lined up with Major League Baseball and the PGA Tour. Yahoo! won the rights to stream 180 MLB games, complete with commercial breaks, for free this year. They’ll also be showing “featured holes” on their site during the early rounds of the PGA tournaments.

Yahoo! also produced the NFL’s first live-stream event in 2015 that was praised for its production quality.

Why should sports bars & restaurants care?

As we’ve said before, if you want to be taken seriously as a sports bar you need to be able to show as much content as you can, and that includes games that are available as Internet streams or as online-only events. And you want that content to be varied. All it takes is a few guests to be interested in what you’re showing to build a loyal following.

And you’d be crazy not to take advantage of free content that you can easily stream on your TVs with a little help of inexpensive technology, such as Google Chromecast or Amazon Fire TV stick.

Facebook had also been courting the NFL to live-stream NFL game but dropped out of the running recently. Facebook wanted to run ad-free video while the NFL wanted revenue from ads. Though they lost this bid, Facebook has been working closely with BBC Sports and Sky Sports with it’s new feature Facebook LIVE, so wouldn’t be surprising to see live game action happen there in the future.

Yahoo!, Amazon and Verizon were also jostling with Twitter for online streaming rights.

Yahoo! has the NHL, MLB and PGA. Twitter has the NFL. And let’s not forget that Youtube has the NBA D-League. That’s a lot of sporting events streaming online and it’s only going to become more mainstream in the next few years.

Plus, it’ll help you get out of a bind should there be team/station/cable provider carriage right disagreements that black out games in your area.