NFL live streaming went 'incredibly well' for Twitter but there's still no word on next season

By Kyle O'Brien | Creative Works Editor

January 3, 2017 | 4 min read

The NFL streamed live on Twitter for the first time this season, and according to the social media company, the league was pleased with the results. That stated, there is still no official word whether the NFL will be back on Twitter next season, according to a story on GeekWire.

Twitter paid the NFL a reported $10m to stream ten Thursday Night Football games this season, starting with the Jets vs Bills in September and ending with December’s Giants and Eagles game.

Numbers rose throughout the season for the live streamed games. The initial matchup garnered just over 2m streams, and it rose throughout the season, ranging between 2.6 to 3.1m.

Twitter also reported an average minute audience of roughly 250,000 per game, which is still small compared with those who viewed on television.

Still, Twitter’s global head of sports partnerships Laura Froelich, told GeekWire that the live streaming deal with Twitter went “incredibly well,” noting increases in viewership and positive fan comments, especially for being able to see live tweets alongside the streaming video feed.

“Our hypothesis was that we had the ability to instantly explain the value and power of Twitter by having both the game, and the conversation around the game, all in one place,” she said. “It’s really, really resonating with fans.”

Viewers were able to watch the games through the mobile app or on the company’s apps for Apple TV, XboxOne and Amazon Fire TV, even if they didn’t have a cable package or Twitter account. Considering Twitter has been struggling to add users, getting any new eyes through the new NFL deal was a good one.

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While many advertisers weren’t ecstatic about the low numbers, paying advertisers like Anheuser-Busch and Verizon were “extremely excited to be in on the innovation and how we are redefining how fans consume live sports,” according to Froelich.

While an announcement hasn’t been made regarding next season, the value Twitter brought to the budding streaming video for the NFL was a moderate success, and the Amplify advertising program, a revenue-share deal for advertisers that the NFL has been with the past four years and uses to publish more than 100 video highlights on Twitter per week.

“One of the aspects of our partnership with the NFL is not only around live content, but Amplify as well,” she told GeekWire. “Our value proposition to marketers is not only just the live integration into our live broadcast, but also the opportunity to have a conversation with consumers day-in and day-out through the Amplify program.”

Twitter is looking to up its live stream game, with deals with the NBA and MLB, as well as streaming the red carpet show for the Golden Globes.

“We know that during a three-hour Thursday Night Football telecast, we have millions of users looking at tweets about that game and creating tens of millions of impressions that we know are very valuable to them, and very valuable to our partners — both the NFL, and of course our advertisers,” explained Anthony Noto, Twitter's chief financial officer, on a recent company earnings call. “Being able to bring the live streaming game into the product with those live conversations and commentary is a complete solution.”

While Twitter hasn’t earned a lot of revenue from the live streaming deals, it has gained more eyeballs and earned more media coverage, which may be key to its recovery.


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