Twitter Thursday Night Football Livestream Peers into Future of the Sports-Watching Experience
It’s Sunday, and as usual, I don’t get the New Orleans Saints game. For whatever reason, the television executives think I want to watch the Atlanta Falcons or Carolina Panthers. I don’t. So, again, I was forced to stream the Saints game from my computer.
The game sucked, and so did the stream. As I’m sitting there watching the Saints and New York Giants race to the bottom in between lags and skips, I thought to myself, “Wow, Twitter really did nail it.”
Twitter paid $10 million for the rights to stream 10 Thursday Night Football games this season, and at first, I was skeptical. The social media company has deals with other leagues, including the MLB and NHL, but the NFL would be their biggest stage.
Twitter, however, can breathe easy after dexterously orchestrating their first NFL live-stream. The New York Jets topped the Buffalo Bills 37-31 on Thursday Night Football as fans watched on from their smartphones, laptops, Apple TVs, and Xbox Ones. Other than the slight delay between the broadcast on CBS and the live-stream, there were very few complaints.
Twitter’s stream brought a high-definition showing of the game to a large audience who, for the most part, would not have had access otherwise. With few interruptions and a live feed of tweets using the hashtag #TNF or mentioning a team or player, the game went on without a hitch.
The game may have also marked a turning point for the company. The excitement over a successful venture (so far) shot Twitter, Inc.’s stock up 4.4% Friday.
Twitter, unbeknownst to most people, has yet to turn a profit, as it has a tough time competing for online and mobile ad revenue with the social media giant Facebook, which was established as the ad king as Twitter was still on the come-up. Now, Facebook and Twitter are going head-to-head on the future of the media experience—live-streaming.
Live-streaming offers the same advertising packages that a television program would, making it more attractive for larger corporations than a sponsored tweet or post. If you watched the broadcast, you probably saw commercials from big names such as Ford, Anheuser-Busch, and Bank of America. These packages went for anywhere from $1 million to $8 million.
Wasserman, the talent agency that brokered the major sports leagues’ advertising deals believes that over the next several years, the $200 billion a year spent on TV ads will transition to live streams.
“Live was the last bastion of TV,” said Jason Stein, CEO of Wasserman’s social media firm Laundry Service. “It looks like the new video platforms and the popular social apps are going right for that because there’s $200 billion of ad spend put into TV. Globally, that’s as massive of a shift you’re going to see in your lifetime when it all goes to digital video.”
On top of that, Twitter ads are smarter. Unlike a television ad which gives you information on how many people saw it, a Twitter ad allows companies to see everyone following the game along with their profiles and better target specific age and interest groups.
So, what does all this financial stuff mean for us as football fans? Well, hopefully, better access to our favorite teams. As people continue to cut the cable cord in favor of services like Hulu and Netflix, the NFL (along with the NBA, MLB, and NHL) will continue to move more and more of their events from the TV to the Internet.
Hopefully, it won’t take too long. Out-of-market games just irritate me.