The NFL on Twitter is either the start of a new era for the beleaguered social media platform, or an indication that their problems won’t be solved with content from America’s most watched league. Twitter’s main issue has been the slow growth of users that has led to disappointing financial forecasts and a murky pathway to future success for the company. While commentary, trolling, and snark may be alive and well on the platform, the reliance on content from other sources to drive conversation and the narrative limit built into the system’s 140 characters has constrained growth. Note: The ability to Tweet beyond that limit is coming soon.
Tonight’s broadcast of the company’s first of ten Thursday night NFL games signals an ongoing shift toward changing the company’s scope. Utilizing the CBS broadcast for its feed, users will receive curated content along with a stream of the game. Recent launches of apps on OTT services Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, and Xbox will serve to provide users, and importantly cord cutters, access to the game and Twitter’s unique interface.
This comes on the heels of the NFL seeing a precipitous drop in its year over year week one ratings last week. As the Fields of Green mentioned, this is likely partly due to the shifting market trends that are pulling consumers away from traditional platforms and toward new ways of consuming content. If the NFL, and other sports leagues, are going to combat that trend, forays into digital streaming like tonight’s Twitter debut might need to lead the way.
Twitter has already provided live broadcasts of events such as the Democratic and Republican conventions, but tonight is a bigger test for the future of the company as something beyond a commentary platform. With a successful debut, and more importantly a strong season’s worth of streams, Twitter takes the next step in becoming a true content distributor and legitimate platform for the next generation of sports fans.