In terms of the viewer and user experience, Twitter’s live stream of the Thursday Night Football between the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets was a success. Once people could find it, the streaming video was clear, though there could be some tweaks with how tweets are incorporated into the feed.
But how many people actually watched the streaming NFL feed on Thursday night? The overall viewership sounds rather impressive. Two million people in total watched Thursday Night Football on Twitter, according to the NFL.
However, the average audience appears a bit underwhelming, with 243,000 viewers watching the stream at any particular time. When viewers clicked in, they watched the game for an average of 22 minutes.
Network source on Twitter's 243K audience: "That's an impressive number. You can deliver to digital advertisers with an audience like that."
— John Ourand (@Ourand_SBJ) September 16, 2016
Last year’s live NFL stream on Yahoo drew 15.2 million viewers overall, and an average of 2.3 million people streaming at any given time. But Yahoo had the benefit of any user clicking over to the Yahoo.com homepage getting an autoplay of the game. Anyone who tuned into the streaming telecast for more than three seconds was counted as a viewer.
Twitter numbers were never going to compare favorably to TV, but just as a point of reference, 48 million tuned into CBS and NFL Network for Bills-Jets with an average audience of 15.4 million. Now, Twitter and potential advertisers have a baseline number to work from for the remaining nine streaming Thursday Night Football broadcasts this season.
The initial ratings look like most people tuned in out of curiosity to see what watching a NFL game on Twitter would be like. So will more users, especially cord-cutters. watch now that reviews of the streaming broadcast were positive? Or will more viewers opt for the traditional TV broadcast and perhaps continue using Twitter as a second-screen experience to see what fans are saying about the game?
But as Recode’s Kurt Wagner points out, will this venture ultimately pay off for Twitter in terms of generating revenue and drawing new users. The ratings appear to be encouraging for advertisers, but will more people sign up for a Twitter account as a result of streaming a live NFL game?