Last month we took a look at the possibility of the NFL partnering with Facebook to bring live games to the platform on Thursday Nights. Our conclusion was that the entities would not make good partners for a number of reasons. Facebook eventually walked away from discussions with the NFL for the official reason of differences in how ads would work, but more likely as a face-saving measure to avoid headlines like NFL Denies Facebook in Favor of Twitter. The announcement today that Twitter would be the streaming home of NFL Football games on Thursday night marks a very important time in streaming. This is not a cord cutting story as some would have it. It is a streaming story and just importantly an example of how the NFL is better integrating itself into social media. The partnership which will allow users to access the games live through, what is becoming the busy intellectuals news feed, is a fantastic match for all of the reasons that Facebook was not.
Younger user base
Twitter unlike Facebook has not gotten mowed down by older baby boomers crowding newsfeeds with irrelevant political and personal spam nor is it a hotbed for time wasting IQ tests and the like. Instead, it has become a point of contact for the latest breaking information from multiple sources with instant access and insight from thought leaders and newsmakers alike. Its audience is both professional and corporate as well as being mobile both in the sense of mobile apps and lifestyle.
People already Live tweet Sports
Find a major event and you will find its hashtag #debate #superbowl etc. If Twitter does this right it will undoubtedly be able to count on regular buzz at least once a week. In fact, it will likely dominate social media platforms during the prime time hours on Thursday. If the company is able to integrate its live stream with access to Twitter feeds on the same screens it could make for an amazing matchup. And if it is an actively developed platform just imagine the possibilities. Think of a game feed with hashtags in place for #Bad calls #what a play #Fire coach ______. It could create instant stories as people clammer for a new angle in the blogosphere. You could see stories like #Dab quintuples traffic during Panthers appearance on Twitter. The media loves to use Twitter for story ideas and now it will be easier than ever.
Fans will be able to watch with Celebrities
When Twitter is at its best as far as live content goes people “Live Tweet” while they watch an event on TV. You never know who else is watching. There is a certain thrill when a regular Joe is watching an event and say Emmit Smith retweets it. Players in the game may well be tweeting. It could create a communal experience like nothing seen before.
Twitter is already available on Multiple Platforms
Twitter has apps for IOS and Android, as well as an easy to access website that is mobile friendly. This should allow users to be able to get to the content quickly and easily from where ever they happen to be. At the moment, the company does not have major apps across set-top platforms and game consoles but as things ramp up for 2016-17 season you can be sure that there will be Twitter video apps for Roku, PS4 Fire TV, Apple TV and more in place. The strongest thing about twitter is accessing it does not require multiple apps as does Facebook with one app for browsing a news feed and an additional app for messaging and such. Twitter and the NFL have a real opportunity to integrate live sports, social media, communal viewing and if it works out right controversy all in one package.
As streaming platforms continue to grow the NFL is likely in a place to be the market leader in a whole new category that frankly didn’t exist before this partnership went into place. Other professional sports leagues best figure out an integrated social media strategy or risk being left in the “20 teens” Since the league first embraced Sunday afternoons it has masterfully broken new ground to keep its brand not only relevant but dominant. This move could ensure that far into the future.