Twitter is hoping that sports is the answer to its user growth problem

Jumping through hoops to find users.
Jumping through hoops to find users.
Image: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
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Twitter is coming for you, sports fans.

The social media site struck a live-streaming partnership with the National Basketball Association (NBA) for two shows, the league announced today. A pregame show and another to-be-determined program will air on the platform during this year’s basketball season.

Live NBA games cannot be streamed Twitter because those rights belong to other long-term broadcast partners. However, the sports league plans to double the amount of digital content it creates for Twitter, Vine, and Periscope with more in-game highlights, behind-the-scenes shots, footage of player arrivals, and live streams of news conferences and interviews. The basketball league has over 22 million followers, the largest Twitter community of any sports league in the world.

The NBA deal is latest in the string of sports-related agreements for Twitter. Last week, the company signed a deal with Pac-12 to broadcast over 150 US university games in a variety of sports, such as soccer, baseball, and ice hockey.

The company’s first big experiment with live sports at Wimbledon proved that Twitter can handle such an event. Sports leagues can use hashtags to create conversations around their event, which gives fans an added element of engagement.

The big question around Twitter is whether it can grow its user base. It added just 5 million in the first quarter of 2016, giving it 310 million monthly active users. Plus, the company is losing money.

The fall marks the real beginning of this strategy for Twitter, when a deal to live-stream National Football League (NFL) games kicks in. With just 10 out of the league’s 256 regular season games, it’s a small but significant test.

Twitter is also foraying into live news with Bloomberg TV programs and live-streams of the Republican and Democratic National Convention. In the past, it’s provided live entertainment in the form of red-carpet moments. If the company can draw in a broader audience with all these live events, it might could breath new life into the platform.