The NFL sees the writing on the wall. People are watching less TV. MUCH less TV, and they are spending a lot of time – even when the TV is on – logged on to social media. So, how can the NFL maintain its fan base while also reaching out to fans and potential fans who would rather watch video on a mobile device? Streaming live events seems a given … but there’s still a huge question mark: How can the league make money with streaming content?
Social Media Experiment
The NFL recently announced an experiment to see what could happen if it opened up its content to mobile users. By offering Thursday Night Football on a mobile app, the league can reach a hand of friendship out to mobile users without alienating its long-term TV contracts on Sundays and Monday night.
Thus, Thursday Night Football on Twitter was born. Fans streamed a recent game live on Twitter and, judging by the reaction, they loved the experience.
Partial credit for the success has to go to Twitter, which managed to offer the content without any major issues or glitches and with high-quality streaming that, many said, rivaled the HD on their home TVs.
Critical Acclaimed By Viewers
The reaction was so overwhelmingly positive fans are already begging Twitter to start streaming more athletic competitions. Others offered suggestions on how to make the good experience even better. Likely, Twitter was listening. If the social app can manage to make streaming NFL games a regular offering, it’s a real opportunity to break ground not even Facebook – with its massive following – has been able to breach. Twitter needed a “look at me” gimmick, and this may very well be it.
Thursday Night Football is an interesting animal. Two networks share rights to the action, with NBC and CBS each broadcasting five games. That means the NFL, Twitter, and both networks need to come to terms to make this a continual offering. But, if “give them what they want” is a deciding factor – and it is – the networks will figure out a way to make this profitable for everyone.
That’s really the only hurdle keeping pro sports on cable and off the ‘net anyway. Sure, ESPN3 is showing a lot more games this season, but people still need a cable contract to watch them. That’s the hurdle that needs to be leaped if live sports wants to catch up with the rest of the entertainment world.