Earlier this month, Twitter and the WNBA announced a partnership that would live-stream 20 regular season games per season on the social media platform. The agreement is for three years and will also put the WNBA on Twitter’s Amplify program, which distributes 40 weekly highlights packages.
The WNBA made its Twitter live-stream debut on Sunday with the game between the Dallas Wings and Phoenix Mercury. How did the streaming broadcast perform? According to SportTechie, the Wings-Mercury game — which featured Phoenix stars Diana Taurasi and Brittney Griner — drew more than 1.1 million unique viewers on Twitter with an average minute audience of 62,459.
So is that good? Here is some comparison for context. For the NFL’s Thursday Night Football debut on Twitter, the live-stream drew two million viewers with 243,000 users watching at any given time. Those numbers increased for the second TNF game, showing that there was some promise for a streaming broadcast on Twitter. Ultimately, the TNF package averaged 3.5 million unique viewers per game last season. However, advertisers felt the ratings fell short of what Twitter promised. Most disappointing was the 22 minutes for which viewers tuned in on average.
— Phoenix Mercury (@PhoenixMercury) May 15, 2017
To be fair, the WNBA isn’t going to come close to matching the NFL’s numbers on any platform. We don’t know what the expectations were or what Twitter promised advertisers, but perhaps the league could draw more of a devoted niche audience. Or maybe not when you see how Twitter counts a view. From SportTechie’s piece:
“Twitter uses a standard video view metric which counts a view when a video is 50 percent in view for two seconds.”
That is some curious terminology. What does “50 percent in view” even mean? Looking at the window with one eye, instead of two? Half of the window visible on the home page’s right sidebar while you’re scrolling through your timeline?
But just two seconds! Even Facebook requires three seconds to count as a view, which is why you now see those annoying mini-trailers ahead of movie trailers now. Sit through the teaser and that counts as a view. Two seconds gives you enough time during a WNBA live-stream to determine which teams are playing in the game and maybe the score. Did those two seconds pique any viewers’ curiosity and draw them in? If so, how long did they tune into the streaming broadcast?
Maybe Twitter and the WNBA can come up with some kind of combined rating, like the NFL, CBS and Twitter were aiming to do last season. But Sunday’s Wings-Mercury game wasn’t on TV. Besides, how much of a percentage should be in view over how many seconds will be necessary for that to count?