So far, so good for Twitter’s NFL live streaming ambitions.
The company’s first attempt at streaming an NFL game went smoothly, and the overall response from users was positive.
Twitter aired the New York Jets vs. Buffalo Bills game on Thursday evening after inking a reported $10 million deal in April with the NFL to stream 10 Thursday Night Football games this season.
— Anthony Noto (@anthonynoto) September 16, 2016
For the most part, folks seemed impressed as the
Watching the game on Twitter on AppleTV with Tweets on the right side of the screen is nice pic.twitter.com/AM5A4E9AXw
— Fred Wilson (@fredwilson) September 16, 2016
Anyone else HIGHLY impressed with the Twitter-NFL stream? High quality, good content, robust conversation, etc. The future is now.
— Tariq Ahmad (@tariq_ahmad) September 16, 2016
NFL on Twitter is like asking TV to broadcast its own death.
— Jason Gay (@jasongay) September 16, 2016
— Jeremy Negrey (@JeremyNegrey) September 16, 2016
Rejoined twitter after forever just for this shizzz. Freakn awesome! #TNF
— Adam Bischoff (@BischoffAdam) September 16, 2016
Twitter streaming NFL games now? Yeah, this is the greatest app of all time.
— 21 Saban (@WhoisWilks) September 16, 2016
For me, the big questions prior to Thursday were latency of the stream and how the company packaged and promoted the new feature within its platform.
I didn’t see many complaints about the quality of the stream, though it was delayed by the traditional CBS TV broadcast by around 30 seconds.
The stream was available via browsers here, on Twitter’s mobile app within the Moments tab, as well as on the company’s new apps for Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, and Xbox One that debuted on Wednesday. Twitter also promoted the feed via push notifications and within user’s feeds.
One interesting note: Google was even directing people to Twitter’s live stream.
Users around the world (except Canada) could stream Thursday’s game for free even if they didn’t have a Twitter account or any sort of cable package. This was key for Twitter, which is struggling to add users in comparison to its competitors, to attract as many people to the stream as possible.
The company, which recently debuted distinct emojis for all 32 NFL teams, showed advertisements throughout the game, just like a normal TV broadcast. It also aired the same play-by-play commentary shown to those watching the CBS feed on TV.
Like Twitter’s streaming coverage of Wimbledon, the live video played on one part of the screen, while a stream of curated tweets cascaded down the other.
My main issue with the experience was the stream of tweets, which I didn’t really get much value from. I’m a heavy Twitter user, and I found myself checking my own feed separately while watching the live stream.
Twitter's NFL experience will be exponentially better with the option of choosing your feed over Twitter's curated TNF feed.
— Richard Deitsch (@richarddeitsch) September 16, 2016
Twitter is using both humans and algorithms to curate the tweets seen alongside the live feed. On Thursday, all users saw the same tweets, but you can expect that to change as Twitter adds more personalization features and different curated timeline options. For example, letting users see tweets from specific fan groups seems like a no-brainer.
There is a ton of potential here for Twitter beyond a better curated feed of tweets. What if users could toggle to different camera angles, or access various instant replays right after a play happens? How about cool statistics that users could scroll through? Maybe some fantasy football-related features, too.
There are some disadvantages to watching from your smartphone, tablet, or laptop — namely, using up mobile data and draining battery. And the experience is dependent on internet connection quality — even if Twitter’s technology is robust, it may not matter if someone’s at-home Internet connection or mobile network is poor.
Nonetheless, there seems to be much more excitement around this NFL streaming experiment compared to Yahoo’s attempt last year, though that game was played in London in a different time zone.
Another big question is what investors think of the new addition to Twitter’s repertoire, and what it means as far as additional advertising revenue. Twitter’s stock has remained flat over the past six months but is down 33 percent in the past year.
This is the first of 10 Thursday Night Football games that Twitter will live stream. The deal was a first-of-its-kind for Twitter, which beat out other bidders like Facebook, Verizon, and Amazon. Twitter has signed similar live streaming deals with leagues like the NBA and MLB, all the way to media giants like Bloomberg and CBS.
“We plan to expand our global offering of live sports, as well as live news, politics, and entertainment,” Twitter said in its Q1 2016 letter to shareholders. “For content producers and rights holders like the NFL, we offer the ability to reach a large global, mobile, and younger audience both on and off of Twitter, together with years of experience making money jointly with partners through our Amplify program. You should expect to see us working with other partners to bring these kinds of joint experiences to life on Twitter.”