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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September 17, 2016 12:50 am

Interesting article and its encouraging to see that the Twitter experience seems to be drawing people (even if the game left one wanting to draw and quarter *themselves* and I'm a Bills fan)

Bell as the rights holder to the NFL in Canada is so paranoid about losing eyeballs for the same five ads that they have in their NFL ad rotation that I'm surprised they finally relented and allowed the playoffs and SB to be streamed live via GamePass in Canada (they still stubbornly refuse to allow the Sunday night and Monday night games to be streamed live)

I watch as many NFL games via antenna and the US stations as I can, just to spite Bell for this archaic nonsense (I mean they insert their stream into the GamePass live stream for Canadian viewers on Sunday afternoons, so why not prime time games?)

The World Cup of Hockey… I want to like the idea but honestly all I see is a tournament that literally means nothing, could see NHL teams lose valuable players to injury before the regular season even starts and in my opinion is being used as a smokescreen to the fact that it appears that the NHL will *not* be shutting down for the 2018 Winter Olympics in Seoul, South Korea.

September 17, 2016 8:18 am

Nice column.

September 17, 2016 10:15 am

Agreed on Sean Fitz-Gerald. When he came over from the National Post, he brought big credibility to The Star's hockey coverage. How Star management couldn't find a way to keep him now is beyond me.

September 17, 2016 10:16 am

Good read Jonah

Excellent hire by College of Sports Media getting Evanka Osmak. Big fan of her anchoring on Sportsnet Central.

Is College of Sports Media the one run by Jim Van Horne formerly of TSN and Sportsnet and now a Freelance Sports Broadcaster?

Liked JP Morosi of Fox Sports and MLB Network doing a few hits on Sportsnet and Sportsnet 590 Ths Fan this week. Had some great insight and reporting. As evidenced by his Marco Estrada back injury story.

September 17, 2016 3:53 pm

Walker got his back up a bit on Monday, snapping back at the Twitter bullies who were calling him a shill for Rogers and the WCOH. He didn’t take it to a Brady level of frothing vitriol but he did stand up for himself in a brief rant.  (21:35 into the Sept 12 ,2 pm Pod)

“‘Save your ‘oh go shilling for Rogers property’ Tweets because they’re boring and they’re lazy. If you listen to this show and you don’t think I like hockey then you’re dumb. This is not getting a memo from up top saying  ‘Hey you should talk about the World Cup of Hockey and make it sound good.’  I’m surprised at myself but I care about the World Cup of Hockey.”  He explained how he got to that point and I believe him.  Well said.

Then Walker called himself out for not calling Kesler out in a Sept 8, 2 PM interview. ‘He’s an ass and he’s grumpy and he didn’t want to be on the air. I should have called him out. That’s why you listen.’ I listened to the interview and didn’t think Kesler was that bad but good for Walker for saying what he believes about one of the ‘partners’ in the game.

I was going to post last week that Overdrive would benefit most from doing more remotes then they did two. They were at the Leafs golf tourney and at a Polson Pier volleyball tourney. Adds more energy to the show that could use it when talking NFL and MLB. Hope they do more of them or maybe every Friday. Can’t remember who Watters was with but they used to do a remote every Friday from a bar and it was a fun listen. I think Wilbur may have been tipping a few pints as well. 

Original Mitch
Original Mitch
September 17, 2016 4:48 pm

haha, the irony is that Walker (and the rest) literally ALL received notes from up top telling them to push and promote the World Cup. He's so thinned skin. Wouldn't it be refreshing if one of them actually acknowledged what is already well known, that they do have mandates to promote hockey and the Jays? Like, own it instead of being defensive about it. They act like a bunch of Rafael Palmeiros over there.


September 17, 2016 6:35 pm

Baseball Central was rock solid last week.
Blair & Barker were spot on, refreshing & frank commentary.

I'm a subscriber to DirectTV so I don't have to endure the gouging and shitty packages provided by Rogers, Bell and/or Shaw. Even with the hit on the US$, I'm still paying less than my neighbours.  

I caught the PTS intro on Friday – I heard Scollari & Reid, I immediately flipped back to SiriusXM & scanned the ESPN options until I found something interesting.

Jonah, well stated on the Bullying issue.
My own 1st hand experience getting "bullied" didn't occur until I was 40ish.
Solutions start at home.
I have 3 kids still in school, we talk all the time about what happens at school, on the play ground and on the bus. It's shocking what goes on. 

koko b.ware
koko b.ware
September 18, 2016 9:15 am

“Once a message is sent it disappears forever and along with any proof of wrong doing.”

It “DOES NOT” must have been omitted from the sentence.

koko b.ware
koko b.ware
September 18, 2016 9:18 am

With regards to sports viewing and Twitter, I long for the days of just watching, hearing news and rumours from people (overhearing someone discussing a breaking trade on the bus) and just opening up a newspaper to get the latest scores. I know it’ll never be like that again, but simpler times were that much more enjoyable.

Rick in Barrie
Rick in Barrie
September 19, 2016 3:12 pm

Good read today. Baseball Central was decent and it was nice to hear someone speak of Blue Jay baseball without the pom-poms on.

Sean Fitz-Gerald was a breath of fresh air at The Star and it'll be missed (in a few weeks). I did appreciate his humourous reply to Bruce Arthur on Twitter "Turns out, it was "sportswriter FOR the year." In hindsight, I maybe should have read the fine print earlier."

NHL17 review (from someone who hasn't missed giving EA Sports my money on far too many occasions) – Pass on this one again.  I don't like the "just a roster update" critique but unfortunately…when the shoe fits. It is clearly this development team is lacking and has little, if no understanding of the sport  and what the gamers want. They give us some "new" features (which they took out themselves a few editions ago)  this year but even they are lacking. Microtransactions seem to be the focus and name of the game. Unfortunate…

The Overdrive "on-location" days were great…if you enjoy that shtick. Personally I hope they keep it up. Helps them keep in touch with the common fan and a great way to grow the blue collar brand.


September 19, 2016 4:34 pm

So TSN has now hired Howard Berger internally and have Jim Lang hosting Argos games on 1050…wonder how much rollback they'll see compared to their wages of yesteryear. 

September 19, 2016 6:15 pm
Reply to  Ricky

Where did you see the Berger news? Good for him, just hope he comes in with a clear head and much less jaded then he finished off at the Fan. Im routing for him. 

Matty Zero
September 19, 2016 10:23 pm
Reply to  Rick in Barrie

EA has really struggled with the current gen consoles. NHL 17 is fine, but the gameplay (depending on mode) is still clunky, and needs to be faster and smoother in play and presentation.  Agreed on the focus being microtransactions. Sad.

Something must be in the water over at Sportsnet, even Sid said Gibby could go 🙂

September 20, 2016 9:49 am

What do people think of the CGI rink board ads during the world cup? Personally, I find them distracting, especially when they show other camera angles or replays and you see the actual boards, then they switch back and there are different ads. But I know even if people don't like them they are likely going to become the new norm. 

Rick in Barrie
Rick in Barrie
September 20, 2016 10:37 am
Reply to  Greg

At first I didn't mind them…but then during the NA vs RUS game last night they had "AUTO-TRADER" in bright red Las Vegas letters. Far too distracting. 

Steve Jones
Steve Jones
September 20, 2016 12:41 pm

I’m not a twitter user and really don’t really understand the allure of being on it while I watch a sporting event. Maybe I’m a Luddite. I do follow twitter from a business perspective. By all accounts it’s not growing anywhere as fast as it needs to and has fallen well behind instagram and snapchat in the social media world. Carrying some NFL games is a good publicity play, but the numbers are not very inspiring. Seems to me they are going to have a very tough time monetizing. I did read a very interesting article in the WSJ yesterday on the topic of OTT delivery of sporting events. It played off the twitter experiment but expanded on many more opportunities to deliver a more engaging experience for online viewers. No doubt this is a direction all leagues will move towards as it gives them additional rev gen opportunities. Whether this is done by the leagues with their streaming platforms or by someone better equipped like FB will be interesting to watch.

September 20, 2016 2:30 pm

As sports video games go NHL 17 is at the bottom of the heap, however, the reason they're down there is more about the other games being so good.  Having played NHL a bit, I'd agree…it's okay but not in the same class as NBA 2K, Madden et al.

September 20, 2016 2:32 pm

I was floored when I listened to the FAN briefly on Friday to hear Reid, Shannon and Vandetta on the PTS roundtable.  The World Cup was starting the next day, Blue Jays in a huge series, Bills fired their OC and that is the best roundtable they could dredge up?   Wow!  

Sam In Scarb
Sam In Scarb
September 20, 2016 4:08 pm
Reply to  Sperk

As it has been for years now,the fan/590 does not give a shirt about the listening public,plain and simple.Proof Friday 5-7 pm.

September 20, 2016 5:37 pm

Just listened to PTS with Bob and Cox fawning all over Schulman  – I guess I am I am in the minority but I find his voice annoying and had he gone any longer I would have flipped the dial –

September 20, 2016 6:24 pm

Perhaps it’s just me, but some comments on here come off as old guys yelling at clouds? Complain complain complain….what do you like?

Original Mitch
Original Mitch
September 20, 2016 6:49 pm

It's funny how we talk about Wheeler over at 1050 having pictures of his bosses or something, yet he's nothing compared to Reid over at Rogers. What on earth do they see in him to put him on radio, tv, promotions and dumb videos for .ca ? Scott Moore must literally be the only person who likes him and everybody is afraid to say anything to the boss. 


Douglas O'Toole
Douglas O'Toole
September 20, 2016 10:28 pm

Not particularly on point with this week's column but I happened to listen to Mike Wilner calling play by play of a Jay's game recently. Was wondering if someone had just learned about "launch angle". He was overusing it like a kid with a new toy. Every fly ball, "wrong launch angle", Edwin home run, "I can't wait to see what the launch angle was on that one". If he wasn't so concerned about trying to prove that he is the smartest guy in the room all the time he might be an ok broadcaster.

September 21, 2016 8:22 am

Walker 1 pm hour yesterday had ‘Ex NHLer Glenn Healy’ on. No mention of HNIC. I think most people would happily accept getting fired when given a three year severance package.

And on the big Saturday night game the panel was Ron Maclean, Friedman, Hrudey, Kypreos or 75% staffed by pre-Rogers deal CBC guys and token 25% Kypreos. The panel last week of Amber, Kyper, Friedman was ok but had an energy similar to the after 2nd period slot of a Saturday night game from Edmonton.

September 21, 2016 9:09 am

I'll take Amber over Maclean any day. I find the latter unbearable – kind of a show off. 

How can Steve Simmons continue to act surprised when people say he had it out for Kessel. I heard his explanation of the hot dog story on the TM podcast, and it was weak. Stand by your story of you must, but don't expect people to forget. 

My turn to yell at a cloud – The Scotia ad where 10 year olds fantasize about being Orr and Henderson. No. Also the pale kid doing the pbp is kind of ghostly and ethereal in a sixth sense way. Okay, time for some refreshing Geritol.


September 21, 2016 4:15 pm


Hadn't given thought to non-Madden sports games in years, but I played NBA 2K16 and that is simply amazing.  Gameplay, graphics, music selection, extras…everything.  It truly captures not just the game but the subculture of basketball perfectly.  How can you argue against a game that lets you play the 2015-2016 Warriors against the 1995-1996 Bulls?

Pants Go Brown
Pants Go Brown
September 22, 2016 10:45 am
Reply to  yaz

Always liked Healy.  Guy has good insights and he is funny and after all it is ENTERTAIMENT.

Panel on WCH is much improved without  Strombo.  Hrudey is better and Elliotte is solid.  Still too much Kypreos who continues to lack when it comes to insight.


September 22, 2016 3:03 pm

@edge  Couldn't agree more, NBA 2k is the gold standard and has been for some time.  Madden this is year is also quite good.  FIFA and Pro Evolution Soccer are also excellent hence why I said NHL is at the bottom.  By itself it is good but isn't even close to the other games on the market

mike (in boston)
September 23, 2016 8:28 am

Seen & Heard will probably return this weekend. If you have something to add to the Low Hanging Fruit section or some items for Quick Hits, hit me up by DM or email.

Steve Clark
September 23, 2016 9:17 am
Reply to  Ricky

Howards profile on LinkedIn changed to indicate that he is working with TSN in an off-air role.  Lang is a morning man for a radio station in York Region, but you can tell that he still yearns to cover sports. He is not the first ex-Rogers employee to land in Bell Medias arms.  Anchor and football guy Jamie Thomas is now the 12-3 host, and the host of Tiger Cat games on TSN 1150 in Hamilton.   

Mike S
Mike S
September 23, 2016 12:38 pm

I just received a new 590 survey via e-mail…………….they asked for opinions on every one of their weekday shows and every one of their weekday hosts………………when you add the results of that survey to the radio post (and comments) on this site a couple of weeks ago it should give the people at 590 a fair amount of useful feedback

mike (in boston)
September 23, 2016 3:03 pm
Reply to  Mike S

Don't answer their survey! Make them come here. 

Matty Zero
September 23, 2016 6:54 pm

Looks like the Shan590 is back and in full effect. Sigh.

Paul G.
Paul G.
September 23, 2016 7:37 pm
Reply to  Matty Zero

Yeah,  wasn't that a great listen.  Shannon with his inane interruptions and Grange using soccer analogies while discussing World Cup teams and the Jays' Dunedin news!

September 24, 2016 7:21 am

Is is just me or does Damian seem bored or indifferent on PTS lately?

Paul G.
Paul G.
September 24, 2016 10:40 am
Reply to  Daz66778

I've noticed that too.  I watch the show on SN360 and at times he is looking away from Bob or another guest while they are speaking. 

It's almost as if he is trying to copy Bob's act of "I don't take the show seriously";  although in his case he should be grateful for the assignment after his HNIC demotion.

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