When companies kick off a new live streaming effort, they often fumble the ball. Aereo did it. Sling did it. Heck, even HBO did it. But the debut of the NFL’s Thursday Night Football on Twitter worked flawlessly, and it proved that the social network might just be onto something by dabbling in live streaming events. As a long-time fan of both football and the Twitter experience, Twitter’s first TNF game was intoxicating.
Twitter’s strength lies in its ability to foster conversations with people from around the world in real time. That’s the promise, at least. In practice, it’s difficult to find conversations tied to game day unless you’ve crafted a list of sports-crazed followers and followees. I have nearly 5,000 followers on Twitter, and whenever I spit out 140 pigskin-related characters, it’s typically met by deafening silence. (Admittedly, my online pals tend to lean toward tech topics.) Hashtags could theoretically help you find like-minded football fans, but in reality, nobody really uses them. So I don’t tweet about football much.
Twitter plopped a feed of every TNF-related tweet next to the game’s high definition (and rock-solid) live stream. It changed everything.
Suddenly, there was no shortage of people chatting about the event we were all glued to in real time. My sportsball tweets—like this one lamenting drafting Keenan Allen and Brandon Marshall as my fantasy football wide receivers when Marshall went down with a knee injury—were receiving likes, and retweets, and comments. Suddenly, I actually felt engaged with fellow football fans on Twitter. This is something I’d never felt before despite having more than 21,000 tweets to my name.
And I wasn’t the only one.
Every sport needs to get on board with this. Absolutely the future of media #TNF— Alex Cocilova (@TheBrowncoat88) September 16, 2016
This is cool. Hope pats/Texans is like this next Thursday #TNF— Scott Wilkins (@swilki15) September 16, 2016
Twitters stream is really impressive. Need to do more events. #BillsMafia #GoBills #TNF— college boy (@DillySanders) September 16, 2016
What’s more, the free, open nature of the stream—not all NFL games are streamed, and the ones that are tend to require cable subscription authentication—brought new fans to the game…
I am watching my 1st NFL game in years thanks to @twitter LIVE feed 😀 #TNF Big Thank you from SE Asia Expat GO JETS! 🏈— C.P. Marlo (@ChinaBoricua) September 16, 2016
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