In advance of the Super Bowl, Giphy, the official GIF-maker of the National Football League, has revealed its most popular GIFs from the season. Topping the list is Washington linebacker Junior Galette pumping both fists in enthusiastic celebration, and No. 2 was a Green Bay fan doing a little celebration shake.
GIFs have become an important part of the digital conversation on social media and in messaging apps, and Giphy is a main supplier of the video clips, which it syndicates to Facebook, Twitter and elsewhere online. Giphy says the NFL is its top channel, generating 12.4 billion views throughout the season.
"The Giphy partnership is a great opportunity to reach younger fans in a channel that's rapidly growing," says Blake Stuchin, NFL's vice president of digital media business development. "This is the type of content fans are most interested in, and it's complementary to the way we work with other platforms."
The NFL is meticulous about managing rights to its content, and spreading deals across television, mobile devices and through streaming services. The league just struck a five-year, $3 billion deal with Fox to broadcast Thursday Night Football games, and it's still negotiating to sell rights for digital streaming.
The NFL only permits GIFs of the action around its games--player reactions, coaches' expressions, end zone celebrations and fans--not actual game footage itself.
Last year, the NFL told individual teams that they were not permitted to post GIFs to social media. The league then struck a deal with Giphy to be the exclusive maker of GIFs for the NFL. Neither would discuss the financial terms of their partnership.
Still, even with constraints around what it can and can't show, Giphy is able to create highly viral GIFs. They're frequently used as reaction GIFs, and appear in messages from people looking to express a similar sentiment.
For instance, a player getting pumped after a play could be shared by anyone wanting to convey similar levels of excitement—like say they got the last slice of pizza. In that case, the Junior Galette celebration GIF really captures that mood.
"We have seen for a long time NFL fans are increasingly using GIFs as way of communicating and sharing emotions," Stuchin says.
Here are the top 10 unscripted reaction GIFs from the season, according to Giphy.
No. 1. The Junior Galette celebration
No. 2. A Green Bay fan dance
No. 3. Jayon Brown's 'nope'
No. 4. Jaylen Ramsey celebrates
No. 5. Carson Wentz 'makes it rain'
No. 6. Pete Carroll's confused face
No. 7. Antonio Brown's shimmy
No. 8. Demarious Randall's 'nope, nope, nope, nope'
No. 9. Antonio Brown and Roosevelt Nix high-five
No. 10. Frustrated Von Miller