Twitter’s Solid NFL Start Sign Of Things To Come




Happy Saturday!

Those of you who know me, or who have been following here for any amount of time know that I am a Twitter fan. Not that anyone listens, but I have been banging the drum that a sports league (NHL!!) should buy Twitter in that watching a game while using Twitter dramatically enhances the fan experience.  No matter the event I am watching, live sports, regular tv or event the experience is greatly enhanced by doing so with a laptop or mobile device nearby to watch and tweet (active and passive) in unison.


A good part of my passion for sports and entertainment is that I am able to actively participate in the conversation with those I like, admire or share interests with regardless of the topic in real time.

Twitter has created the access to real time discussion in many medium of entertainment and sports.

This is exemplified on big sports days in the calendar like free agency, trade deadline and draft days. It’s also the way that news gets broken.  More often that not the story breaks first on Twitter than on other mediums.

” JP Morosi is reporting on his Twitter account that Blue Jays Estrada has been playing with a herniated disc….” was read aloud by Jeff Blair only two days ago about the Jays pitcher live on Baseball Central.

To me and others that real time conversation is the peanut butter of what makes Twitter so special.

In many of the places I have worked over the year I was the only person on my team who still pays for cable tv.  I’ve been surrounded by no corders (those who have never paid for cable) or cord cutters for years.  The only people who have kept a live account are those who follow sports as the ability to stream sports has been limited at best. However, in both the USA and Canada sports broadcasters are losing subscribers at an alarming rate.  There is a real fear that the sports TV audience is going to follow the physical newspapers business.  Maybe not tomorrow but the rate of decline (see ESPN) is shocking.

The answer, I have suggested is that the cable companies who also provide internet access start to provide sports packages in app style as part of the internet service they sell customers. As I am writing this article, I am watching the Blue Jays take on the Angels on my flat screen TV using and the fidelity could not be better.  Not only that, I am south of the border and I am able to watch the Toronto broadcast team.

That’s the chocolate opportunity for the Twitter’s of the world who desire to make the uber successful and oh so delicious peanut butter cup.

So last night Twiter live streamed it’s first NFL regular season game.

As a sports fan and a Twitter fan it was AWESOME.

I was watching along with others on an Amazon FireTV and the Twitter app installed and running.

There on the big screen was a live stream of the game.  You could keep that as a your full screen or with a simple click you could enable a Twitter feed window to pop out.  Twitter had obviously some sort of filer activated as the Tweets we saw were at the very least topical to the Bills Jets game that was being played.

I imagine that as the product evolves the user will be able to chose between a curated feed OR their own feed.

The early reviews were extremely positive for this first step in steaming sports social media program.

This isn’t the end of the world for the Twitter live stream. Neither Twitter nor the NFL is looking to grab TV viewers. They want those Millennials who watch from a mobile screen. Yet, for some, it will be hard to sell them on the Twitter app if they’re in the same room as a TV with the game running a play quicker.

From Forbes on the event

Twitter won its NFL live streaming debut by a wide margin.

The social network received rave reviews Thursday for the first of its 10-game packageof Thursday Night Football games, a slugfest between bitter AFC East rivals the New York Jets and the Buffalo Bills. The Jets hung on to win a 37-31 thriller.

From CNET on the game

Even the stock market took notice: ” Twitter may have scored a field goal.Twitter shares climbed more than 4 percent Friday after the first National Football League (NFL) game was livestreamed through the social network”

However it should be noted that the ratings for the game weren’t very good:

Twitter Inc.’s high-profile debut live-streaming a National Football League game went off without a glitch Thursday night, but low viewership numbers indicate that most football fans still prefer to watch the game on traditional TV.

An average audience of 243,000 viewers per minute watched the New York Jets beat the Buffalo Bills via a live-stream broadcast on Twitter, according to the NFL. That pales in comparison with the average of 15.4 million people who watched the game on CBS and the NFL Network.

The numbers don’t lie however I wouldn’t read too much into them. Low ratings for the first game, between the Jets and Bills on a Thursday night is akin to viewing the NFL as unpopular in Toronto by virtue of the failure of the Bills in Toronto program.  One, lets look at a larger sample size and at the same time lets look at some bigger games in the football season.  Most importantly is that this is not supposed to take over the TV audience, it’s supposed to engage an audience that perhaps the league isn’t reaching.  Most importantly it’s to foster fan engagement in a world where everything is real time and via social media.

In other words lets give it some time.

I will say that I think it’s a great start to the next generation of sports viewing.  It’s refreshing to see a league embrace modern technology and try something new.

No, I am not sure when or if it will come to Canada but it should.  I am sure that the rights holder will hold on for dear life to prevent it.

Random thoughts:

If you are a Jays fan,  I highly suggest you listen to Baseball Central on the fan for at least the first couple of segments each day.  Barker and Blair have been really, really good of late. I really respect the level of honest criticism that both guys have been hurling at the home team, especially in this Rogers biased accusation era that we live in. Here are two guys on the owners station calling it like they see it.

Along the same note, Shi Davidi continues to deliver award worthy content on the Sportsnet website.  Gems like this are greatly appreciated by yours truly filed under the heading of calling it like you see it:

The corresponding piece to the club side of the covenant is its payroll, and this off-season presents an important litmus test for the organization with longtime icons like Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion headed to free agency.

I know it seems petty, but the fans are all thinking about payroll as Rogers is touting 3.3m in attendance, it’s nice to see it called out in the press.

Is it me or has the World Cup of Hockey completely neutered anyone else’s excitement for the upcoming NHL season. I herd Jeff Marek on the radio the other day opine ” if you are a hockey fan how can you not watch this tournament?”, I have to admit, I have little interest at least right now.

I got NHL 17 for the Sony Playstation the other day.  Little TSM has played it with rave reviews.  I have not.  Any thoughts?

A short while after I wrote last weeks column on the future of newspapers Toronto sports scribe Sean Fitzgerald took to Twitter to let the world know that despite only just recently joining the Toronto Star Sports section he was a victim of downsizing.  I know, union rules dictate in layoffs seniority rules, but wow did the Star ever layoff the wrong writer.  It was nice to see (even from a far) the outcry of support for Sean amongst a ton of media. It says here he won’t ( and should not) stay unemployed very long.

Congrats to the students of tomorrow at the College of Sports Media in Toronto!  Why?  Evanka Osmak is a new teacher at the school.  I can’t think of a better representative of the current state of sports media to cultivate the talent of tomorrow than Evanka.

The Jays are in the thick of things, the world cup is here, the NFL season is heading into week 2 and both the NHL and NBA are starting to awaken from their summer slumber and PTS rolls out Ken Reid, John Shannon and Joey Vendetta.  I am not sure what word comes to mind when you hear that trio, LAZY is the word that sums up my opinion.

Finally, as some of you know, bullying is an issue that is near and dear to my heart.  News broke this week that a 5th grader, aged 10 took his own life after suffering at the hands of a bully at his school.  If you have kids, please keep an eye on this. Talk to your kids and encourage them not only to not participate but to intervene wherever possible.  Parents, talk to your schools, ensure that there is a policy and that it is being enforced.  The schools can’t deal with this horrible issue alone.  The worst vehicles of bullying FWIW are the modern social media channels that do not copy messages that kids share with one another.  Once a message is sent it disappears forever and along with any proof of wrong doing.  Thank you for allowing me to speak.



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