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Published: Sun, September 18, 2016
Economy | By Melissa Porter

Twitter abuzz as live-video test of Thursday Night Football nears


Twitter yesterday streamed US NFL football for the first time, making live video coverage of the Thursday Night Football game between the New York Jets and the Buffalo Bills available without authentication to the social media platform's 800 million users worldwide.

There was a slight delay between the CBS broadcast and the Twitter live-stream, but viewers largely complimented the high-definition quality of the game that appeared to stream for most without interruption. But it's less impressive when one looks at the average audience for Twitter's telecast, which was 243,000 with each viewer watching an average of 22 minutes of the game.

On Thursday, Twitter streams the first of its 10-game package, a tilt between AFC East archrivals the New York Jets and the Buffalo Bills. Twitter, which paid $10 million for rights to the 10 Thursday night games this season, has been allotted about 15 local in-game ad spots for each.

What games will be streamed on Twitter this season?

Twitter didn't fumble its debut live-streaming games for the NFL.

"The idea of Twitter becoming a live video platform is something that's critical to their business".

The deal with Twitter also is an acknowledgement that fans increasingly are using multiple screens to consume the NFL.

Twitter promoted the stream in the form of its very own trending hashtag (which carried a "live" icon for good measure), on its Twitter Sports and Moments accounts, and via Periscope. I watched on my phone - though you can watch on an iPad or through apps on Apple TV, Amazon and Xbox One - and if I held it horizontally, the game filled the entire screen - without tweets. On Yahoo each person tuned in for roughly 30 minutes, after doing the math based on 15.2 million total viewers and 460 million total minutes viewed.

The NFL previously livestreamed an October 2015 game on Yahoo.

"It's going to be a seminal moment for Twitter and the National Football League as there is a shift from watching TV to livestreaming", said Baer, who has more than 217,000 Twitter followers.

"Twitter was already being used by people who were watching games on broadcast or cable", said Pete Mastin, a market strategy specialist at the web traffic firm Cedexis. But the extra attention gained from them could be worth it in the long run, and could actually transform the company into a streaming/social media hybrid play over time. I will say that I thought Twitter's stream wasn't as clear as that of the NFL Network or CBS broadcasts, but it wasn't like the game was blurry or pixelated, either.

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