The NFL and Twitter have agreed to stream every Thursday Night Football game this season, and the reviews the morning after the first game are good.
The quality of the stream was good, with a crystal clear picture on phones, computers and set-top boxes. Glitches common to online streams were few and far between. The ease of use was also impressive, as it would play immediately and didn’t even require having a Twitter account.
What Twitter’s presentation lacked was much of anything that makes watching a game on Twitter better than watching on TV. Twitter did offer the option of seeing a feed of tweets alongside the video, although that feed was not your own feed — it was just the tweets from random fans that Twitter chose to show. That feed was curated to eliminate the slurs, insults and general idiocy that are such a large part of Twitter, but that didn’t mean the tweets were particularly insightful.
Overall, Twitter seems like a good partner for the NFL to have, from the fans’ perspective, particularly for fans who aren’t at home while the games are on and want to watch on their phones. The biggest question facing the NFL may be whether it can find digital partners willing to pay anything close to the amount of money that the TV networks pay. Twitter is reportedly paying the NFL just $10 million this season to stream Thursday games, a paltry sum compared to the billions of dollars a year in TV revenue the NFL receives.
Eventually, the NFL will need to figure out a way to generate revenue from online streams that’s comparable to the revenue generated from TV broadcasts. Because online streams are the future.