Whether it’s checking the latest tweets or finding out how many points your fantasy team scored, a majority of football fans are using a second screen while watching games.
At a media event touting the NFL’s adoption of technology in Seattle on Wednesday, NFL Executive Vice President of Media Brian Rolapp said that 60 to 70 percent of fans now look at another device when they’re watching professional football on TV.
“TV is still the most effective way to deliver our game,” Rolapp said. “But it’s about everything fans are doing during that game, and everything they’re doing when that game is over.”
Twitter CEO Dick Costolo was also on a panel that included New England Patriots President Jonathan Kraft and Microsoft Vice President of Devices and Services Yusuf Mehdi. Costolo noted how the NFL is “hugely important” for Twitter.
“You can literally see the spikes in tweet traffic that are perfectly coordinated with interesting moments in the game,” he said.
Costolo explained how the definition of “interactive TV” has changed since just five years ago. Back then, he said the idea of interactive TV was about stopping your live TV, touching the screen and engaging with content, and then restarting the TV again.
“The reality is that the second screen, in the form of Twitter, has really brought people much more in direct contact with these players, coaches, and commentators that they previously thought of as just a cornerback of the Atlanta Falcons,” Costolo said. “Now, to be able to see them commenting during the game about something that’s happening on the field, you get this much broader perspective about the person.
The thing that’s so incredible to me about the second screen has been the way it’s fleshed out these personalities that we otherwise only saw in two dimensions and made them these really three-dimensional people for all of us.”
Despite the rise of the second screen, Rolapp said that the NFL has more live television viewers than ever and noted that “the report of TV’s death has been greatly exaggerated.” Costolo then made an interesting point about how his company has actually forced people to watch more live sports.
“I’ve had people tell me that Twitter has sent them back in a time away from DVR, because if they DVR a game and check their feed, they’ll get an alert about the score,” Costolo said. “I do it myself — if for some reason I can’t watch a game, I’ll turn my phone off completely. I’m always trying to constantly watch the game in the moment now and I hear that anecdotally all around the world.”
Much of Wednesday’s event focused on NFL Now, a new app from the league that is largely a video hub for all things NFL. Available as a free or paid app, NFL Now features instant highlights, behind-the-scenes content, historic NFL Films footage, and much more.
“You look at how much content is just being created today in the last 24 hours with all 32 teams, you would have never been able to find all that and see what you’re interested in,” Kraft said. “[NFL Now] brings it under one roof, not just for today, but all days going forward and everything that has taken place in the NFL Films library.”
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell also spoke briefly and touched on the NFL’s history of tech innovation. He lauded NFL Now as one of the “next great innovations in sports.”
“There’s never been a deeper opportunity for you to get into our content and to our video, and to experience it the way you want to experience it, the way you want to do it, when you want to do it, and on whatever platform you’re on,” Goodell said. “We’re excited about that.”
Whether it’s NFL Now, the use of Microsoft Surface tablets on the sidelines, or RFID tags that will be embedded in player shoulder pads this season, it’s clear that the NFL trying to keep up with the times.
“It wasn’t long ago that you’d watch the game in your market and wait until Saturday for the NFL Films wrap-up of what happened the week before,” Rolapp said. “We’re way past those days.”