April 5, 2016
Now that March Madness basketball is over (#sorrynotsorry UNC), we're turning our attention to baseball. No, wait. American football just picked off baseball's opening week with today's announcement that The National Football League and Twitter are embarking on a global streaming parternship.
For the NFL: Of all social networks, Twitter has the most active real-time conversations around football games, and NFL athletes use Twitter as their primary social sounding board. It makes sense to sync live viewing with live social conversation and merge those activities into one platform. In addition, this partnership offers the NFL reach into global markets. While the NFL has worked to establish a UK footprint by flying teams to London to compete, this deal signals real expansion.
For Twitter: Twitter is struggling with user and revenue growth, and this is a huge win for two reasons: the partnership provides 1) the ability to deliver quality content and attract dormant users and, more critically, non-users; and 2) the ability to be a unique provider of a live event plus live conversation viewing experience, creating more engaged users.
For users: Broadcasting live events on social networks isn't new (see: YouTube live concert streaming; Periscope live streaming the Mayweather vs. Pacquiao boxing match). But, the NFL is the varsity league: more teams, more games, more fans, and more dollars at stake. And, let's not forget the mobile factor – now users can (theoretically) watch Thursday NFL games on the go.
Is this Twitter's Hail Mary pass to prove it can still compete? Maybe. But, a Hail Mary still represents a chance (just ask Aaron Rodgers).