Last Thursday night, the US NFL screened for the first time on what is effectively ‘Twitter TV’ - by which I mean a full live CBS broadcast of the game integrated into the Twitter feed on the phone, and cast straight to the lounge room tv.
Two million people watched the game this way, compared with 48m who watched it the old fashioned way on TV (cable or network). By way of comparison, that is one quarter of the audience for the NBC nightly news, and the same as watched Saturday night college football this week. The average user spent 22 minutes watching on Twitter, compared to 25 minutes watching on TV.
So the broadcast worked.
Pittsburgh Steelers running back DeAngelo Williams (@DeAngeloRB) tweeted: "Took 5-seconds watching #TNF on to know this is the wave of the future." A CNN Money piece was headlined (VIEW LINK) NFL Thursday Night Football livestream on Twitter is a hit”.
This is important for Twitter, which has been struggling with how best to monetise its connected, but not growing audience of 300m people. The stock is up 5%, or a dollar this week.
That’s not the only reason it’s important though. If the Twitter NFL numbers are deemed a success, it will further change the way people watch television, formalising the two screen thing - ie instant messaging while watching the Bachelor, or texting contestants off Masterchef.
And if Twitter decides, as appears likely, that this works - meaning it will recoup the US$10m cost for the rights, which it won by beating out Amazon and Verizon - it no doubt will turn its attention to other live tv including finance, current affairs and news – with a view to re-engineering its business model.
So should we expect that NRL and cricket in Australia are next? Nothing to announce yet, but you can guarantee it will be occupying management time at Nine, Seven and Ten already, as well as in the codes themselves.