Twitter in a Rebuilding Year: Streaming Content Is Now the QBSeptember 15, 2016
Football season is underway and we're just a few short hours from finding out if Twitter’s recent licensing deals to stream the NFL on Thursday nights (#TNF) will pay off. Twitter reportedly invested $10 million to get the streaming rights and make the game visible to its 800 million users—not to mention other deals with the NHL, Cheddar, MLB, MLS, Wimbledon, and several collegiate athletic conferences.
Some have viewed the shift by Twitter as a signal that it’s flailing—grabbing at straws to find whatever advertising revenue it can to stay afloat, similar to what happened to Myspace many years ago. But I’m not so certain.
The shift by Twitter isn’t aimed at taking on other social networking sites, but rather is recognizing the potential power of content. Twitter is in a much different place than Myspace when it comes to active content creation. Myspace became a stale platform where only certain people, bands, and brands could create content, and they were trying to get consumers to like and share it. Twitter, on the other hand, is no longer just a place where you go a network with someone; it’s now the place to create compelling microblogs, video feeds, and more.
Content is so powerful that Twitter can’t be considered simply a social networking site anymore. Even its recent product releases are helping it compete with WordPress as a content-distribution platform. For example, the company released its Moments feature, made it possible for more people to have “Verified” accounts, and announced that posts will no longer be limited to 140 characters.
Then look at the multimedia side. Twitter's purchase of Periscope as a creation platform, and the new OTT apps that launched yesterday, are strong indicators that live streams and access to content are the keys to audience growth. The “Twitter stream” is now embracing its name by delivering live streaming content from a variety of producers, and making it accessible in a way that hasn’t been embraced before.
With the recent broadcast network and sporting deals, Twitter is now a fully integrated content network, loaded with content creators and content consumers. Twitter's established audience can now not only watch particular programming, but can participate in it.
Tonight’s game will be the litmus test to see if Twitter’s shift truly pays off, or if it's an ill-fated Hail Mary. I see it as an existing platform's evolution into one that embraces the power of how we create and consume content—in all of its forms.