Thursday Night Football Twitter Stream: a Success

By Matt Ambrose,
Sports Business Writer

With a new NFL season comes a new way to watch football. The Thurdsay Night Football game between the New York Jets and the Buffalo Bills back on September 15th was the debut of the new streaming service on Twitter. Fans can now watch live NFL Thursday Night Football games on one of the most popular social media platforms. However, there was one question about the service: Would people actually use it?

A total of 2.1 million people tuned in on Twitter to watch the game on the new streaming service, a far smaller number than the 15.4 million who tuned in on CBS. Most of the people tuning in on Twitter only watched for a short amount of time, as the sample accounts for people who tuned in for at least three seconds.

This number is far lower than the Yahoo stream from last October, which garnered 15 million viewers. Though numbers for the stream were not eye popping, the quality of the stream was. Fans praised the stream for being easy to find in the Twitter app and being in high-definition. As a result of the success of the first stream, Twitter’s stock rose 4%.

After the Thursday Night Football game last week between the Houston Texans and the New England Patriots, Twitter saw a very slight increase in viewers. About 2.2 million people tuned in on Twitter to watch the Patriots trounce the Texans 27-0.

The most notable increase in viewership was the average number of people who watched per minute. During the Bills vs. Jets game, the average number of viewers per minute was 243,000. This past week, that number rose to 327,000 viewers per minute, an increase of 34%.

The number spike was projected by those within Twitter, given that one of the teams playing in last Thursday’s contest, the New England Patriots, is one of the most disliked teams in the NFL. Even though the game was a blowout, Twitter still received high ratings.
Twitter purchased the rights to stream select Thursday Night Football games this season after partnering with the NFL back in April. Twitter is set to live stream eight more Thursday Night Football games this season, the next of which will be an October 6th matchup between the San Francisco 49ers and the Arizona Cardinals.

The only issue that arose from the stream itself is the broadcast delay, which is also something to be expected in an online stream. Mitchell Reichgart, CEO of the New York-based advertising firm Jun Group, told that minor issues such as broadcast delay “should improve over time.”

Reichgart also stated that advertisers may hesitate investing money towards Twitter streams, “Twitter will need to scale their audience to move the needle financially. But with millennials pushing new content consumption technologies forward, we may soon see an uptick.”

Overall, the live stream experiment has gone well for Twitter. They have seen their stock rise after seeing a significant dip last year, and viewers seem pleased with the quality of the service. With the Twitter streams, the only way is up moving forward.

A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, September 27th print edition.

Contact Matt at

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