NFL set to embrace twitter to boost reach of the sport

Twitter won the rights to livestream 10 ‘Thursday Night Football’ games throughout the NFL season back in April, paying an estimated $10M for the rights. This is a lot less than the $17M that Yahoo spent for the rights to livestream an NFL International series game in London between the Buffalo Bills and Jacksonville Jaguars last year. It’s also a considerable mark down from the $45M per game that CBS and NBC are paying to air the same games on their own networks.

Twitter have been pushing video and event livestreaming recently, with Vine and Periscope now integrated into the platform, enabling users to post 6 second videos or livestream anything directly to their ‘followers’. This push has come around the same time as Facebook launched their ‘Facebook Live’ system, which allows livestreaming to your friends or people that ‘like’ your page and saves the videos on your page as soon as you have finished.

Twitter trialled the streaming of Sports events by livestreaming Wimbledon matches and a College American Football game between Georgia State Panthers and Air Force Falcons. They have also livestreamed events such as the Democratic and Republican conventions in America and the red carpet premiere of ‘Suicide Squad’.

Twitter cofounder and CEO Jack Dorsey will be hoping this livestreaming push helps Twitter recover from the declining growth in users and revenue. Twitter reported its revenue rose by 20% to $602M in the second quarter of 2016, which is its smallest gain and eighth period of declining growth in a row. However advertisers are sceptical about how successful this will be, as the viewing base will be different to that of the TV audience, as typically older people tend to have larger disposable incomes would use the TV network coverage, whereas younger people who tend to have smaller disposable incomes would be using the free livestream. The majority of the 300 million Twitter users also access the platform via the mobile app, so a large proportion of the viewers will be seeing the stream via a screen around 5 inches wide, instead of a television screen that could be anywhere from 20 to 50 inches wide for the average TV viewer.

There’s also a poor track record when it comes to NFL games being livestreamed for free, with Yahoo’s livestream of a London game last year reporting 33.6 million views, although only 2.36 million people were estimated to have watched the stream. This pales in comparison to the average viewing figure for NFL on TV networks in America, which can be anywhere from 13 million on ESPN for Monday Night games to 28.6 million on Fox for late Sunday afternoon games. However you could put this down to the fact the game kicked off at 9:30am for those on the East coast and 6:30am for those on the West coast of America.

You can watch the Thursday Night Football games for free on Twitter via the link:

Sept. 15: New York Jets at Buffalo Bills
Sept. 22: Houston Texans at New England Patriots
Oct. 6: Arizona Cardinals at San Francisco 49ers

Oct. 13: Denver Broncos at San Diego Chargers
Oct. 20: Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers
Nov. 17: New Orleans Saints at Carolina Panthers
Dec. 1: Dallas Cowboys at Minnesota Vikings
Dec. 8: Oakland Raiders at Kansas City Chiefs
Dec. 15: Los Angeles Rams at Seattle Seahawks
Dec. 22: New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles