Twitter's NFL live streaming debut is a hit — except with ad blockers
- Twitter's NFL live streaming debut was a hit, according to multiple outlets, with many social media users shared their excitement and satisfaction with the quality of Twitter's first Thursday Night Football live stream last night. Twitter has not yet released any official viewership numbers for the stream, its first of 10 planned for this year.
- But that doesn't mean the first big test of Twitter's live streaming ambitions went off without a hitch: Discerning Twitter users pointed out that the live stream lagged behind CBS's broadcast, causing problems for Twitter users watching the real-time feed next to the Twitter stream, according to The New York Times.
- The Twitter stream also caused problems for users running ad blockers. Twitter interrupted the streams of users with ad blocking software with a message: "Ad blocking prevents this video from playing. Please disable ad blocking or try a different browser."
People already watch football games and use Twitter at the same time, but now Twitter is bringing it all into one place. The Thursday Night Football stream was the first major test of Twitter's ambitions to become a viewing hub for live sporting events and news programming.
Twitter users are already accustomed to second-screening, the phenomenon of watching TV while using another device, such as a smartphone. But now Twitter is merging its social feed with live TV — an ambitious effort that shows where the future of TV may be headed.
Watching the game on Twitter on AppleTV with Tweets on the right side of the screen is nice pic.twitter.com/AM5A4E9AXw— Fred Wilson (@fredwilson) September 16, 2016
The effort appears to have largely been successful — despite the broadcast revealing a flaw in Twitter's approach. While Twitter's stream was high quality, it wasn't always in real-time — problematically, unlike the Twitter feed that appeared next to the stream. Twitter will need to iron out those issues if it wants to keep attracting new users (and not lose existing ones) via its new live streaming feature.
By ensuring that viewers did not have ad blockers enabled during the live stream, Twitter hoped to boost marketers' efforts to take advantage of second screen viewing habits and reinforce TV ads with complementary messaging on smartphones and tablets.
Just days before the game, Twitter launched apps for Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV and Xbox One designed to broadcast Twitter’s live streaming video, Periscope streams, Vine posts and regular tweets. Twitter has been actively pursuing live streaming deals in the hopes of reinventing itself as a major player in online TV: The company inked a $10 million deal to live stream 10 Thursday Night Football games with the NFL in April, following up on that effort with deals to live stream MLB and NHL games, the Republican and Democratic presidential conventions, two original programming shows about the NBA, and financial news shows from Bloomberg.