Twitter wins, at least when it comes to capturing the streaming rights to NFL Thursday night games for the 2016 season. That's ten games that won't be seen on Facebook, Verizon, or Amazon.

It's a smart move in a lot of ways, although there are some heavy caveats.

Twitter might expand its audience

One of the big issues Twitter has faced is audience growth not being rapid enough to please investors. Part of being a publicly-held company running a social network is fulfilling the expectation of never-ending user growth. More people, more eyes seeing ads, more wallets potentially opening to buy products -- that is the expectation of Wall Street analysts.

Twitter has failed to scratch the audience expansion itch multiple times and that's taken a toll on the stock, which has generally trended downward after a value spike of $69 a share in early 2014. Now it's hovering around $17. The company hopes that by streaming NFL games it can attract larger audiences, particularly among younger users who have cut ties with paid TV subscriptions but might still watch a game if it were available. Even though NBC and CBS will broadcast those games, the idea is to reach people not sitting at a television set. That could also mean getting people who visit Twitter-owned sites but don't tend to log into the service to spend more time, which would also help.

Twitter looks to expand

The problem has been the nature of Twitter itself. Not everyone warms to the format short messages and real-time streaming. Video, however, is a known quantity. Plus, the rates for advertising around video are higher.

For some time the company has moved into video with Vine short looping videos and Periscope live broadcasting. The NFL move is another step in that direction. Twitter gets to expand its definition without changing the fundamental nature of its main service or brand. The more people the company can entice to watch video, the more money it could make in the long run.

Nothing like beating out Facebook

Part of what a publicly-held company has to do is create the right image. Twitter has been a second place, if not an also-ran, to Facebook for years. Facebook is dominant in audience size, in making money, and in establishing itself as the de facto standard for social networking.

Facebook reportedly wanted the NFL broadcasts but not the accompanying ads. Twitter doesn't mind at all and took the opportunity to get ahead of its rival, as well as Verizon, which wants to push more into the content business, and Amazon, which is deadly serious about video.

The downside: cost

Opportunities don't come for free, especially when you're talking about the National Football League, which has a genius for monetizing its intellectual property and content. And these games are probably going to cost some serious amounts. Although the NFL and Twitter haven't released details of their deal, Yahoo reportedly paid $17 million to stream a game in London between the Jacksonville Jaguars and Buffalo Bills on Sunday morning.

Yahoo was trying to prove that it could successfully stream sports events when others previously had fallen down in the face of internet traffic problems. And Yahoo was also trying to prove that it could make some big moves that would grow its business. It didn't seem to work. The question for Twitter is whether it can find ways to move profitably into event streaming to show investors that their goals are in sight.