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Twitter's NFL live stream numbers leave some advertisers 'underwhelmed'


By Tony Connelly | Sports Marketing Reporter

October 7, 2016 | 4 min read

Despite widespread positive sentiment and strong global audience figures for its season premier, Twitter’s Thursday Night NFL Football has reportedly left some of sponsors “underwhelmed” due to the short duration which the average viewer is spending watching the games.



Twitter’s first coverage of an NFL game, featuring the New York Jets and Buffalo Bills, generated a global audience of 2.3 million viewers and was widely praised on Twitter by viewers, however advertisers appear to be less enthusiastic.

While the numbers appeared strong, they were some way off in matching the NBC’s average TV viewing figures of 15.4 million, however industry insiders expect such.

The average viewing time on Twitter for the opening game was 22 minutes, shorter than on TV which is where the issue lies for advertisers.

"The problem is people aren't watching full games,” said agency executive speaking on condition of anonymity to AdAge.

They added: “We're seeing a significant under-delivery from Twitter for our spots.”

Twitter’s ad packages for duration of its 10 game Thursday Night Football deal are reportedly priced between $2m and $8m, depending on the number of ads and whether they are shown during the games or alongside other NFL content. It seems that some advertisers purchased packages on the assumption that the average viewing time would be longer, thus ensuring better value for money.

The agency executive quoted went on to say that while the 22 minutes average viewing figure is encouraging in the context of web video standards, it was one-third the amount of time that a TV buyer would expect someone to watch a fixture in the traditional way.

Their brand client had expected to have its spot viewed three times by the average viewer but instead the average viewer only saw it once.

Another agency executive speaking anonymously said: "If any brands expected them to have the kind of viewership seen on television, it's just not realistic.

"Our clients knew it was very much a test and not seen as being more profound than that."

One of the sponsors, Bank of America, has publicly spoken in support of the audience results.

Lou Paskalis, senior vice president and enterprise media executive at Bank of America, said: “I think we're feeling pretty good about it from a business standpoint.

Responding to Twitter’s figures showing that the ads have a 98 per cent completion rate, a figure which it maintains is an overwhelming number for TV-style commercials on a digital platform, Paskalis, said “that makes us pretty happy”.

Twitter is breaking new ground with its live sports coverage in the hope that it can turnaround a 17 per cent downturn on its stock from last year. The relatively new format of live sports being streamed on Twitter looks like it could continue to grow given that increase in viewing figures for the second game which saw the New England Patriot’s beat the Houston Texans. The game was watched by 2.6 million people worldwide and generated an average viewing audience of 327,000, which represents a 34 per cent weekly increase over its first week.

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