Twitter scores with NFL stream; the wave of the future? Yep

A couple of buffers, a bit of delay (maybe 30 seconds?), but Twitter’s stream from its inaugural NFL Thursday Night Football game played better than the Buffalo Bills, who lost – for the record — to the New York Jets, 37-31.

Picture quality on an iPad, connected TV (via Apple TV) and on my phone was solid, even when playing at the same time. And, surprise, there were no hoops to jump through to watch the game, no pay-TV authorization, no logging in, nada.

As to the stream delay? I didn’t have a bet on the game, wasn’t texting buddies back and forth while it was being played and, frankly, only noticed it when I compared it to a second TV connected via cable.

So, pretty much a moot point, right?

And it was 100% free… just like back in the “good old” broadcast days (or the current days if you still have an antenna).

That, as much as anything else, will help guarantee Twitter collects on its $10 million bet with the NFL that it can drive viewership for the 10 Thursday night games it has lined up.

And, that’s also going to drive more reluctant cable cutter wannabes to go ahead and snip their cable umbilical cord.

Sports has routinely been the No. 1 reason many consumers cite when admitting they’re hesitant to cut the cord. There’s no longer any need to worry.

At least if a Thursday night game will sate your pro football appetite.

(You’ll also be able to watch some Pac-12 action, NBA and NHL games and even some baseball in the coming months, as Twitter has deals with all of them.)

A year ago, the NFL floated a trial with Yahoo, live streaming a game from London between the Jacksonville Jaguars and Bills. It, too, went well.

The NFL – along with other pro sports – is desperate to find a way to attract Millennial viewers to its game. The average age of its audience has been rising relentlessly and is on the upper edge of the “prized demographic” range… something it can’t allow to continue.

So, it’s been more than willing to try out streaming – especially to mobile devices.

It’s a safe bet that unless Twitter fumbles the ball in a big way, there’s a very good chance the league will expand its experiment. In fact, CBS chief Les Moonves told a room of investors Thursday at the at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Media, Communications and Entertainment Conference, that he believed CBS All Access, the OTT service the Eye Network operates, could soon be broadcasting Thursday night games, too… and maybe even Sunday games.

“I anticipate before too long that we’ll be able to make a deal with the NFL,” Moonves said. “We talk to them a lot. They know our desire to get (games) on our service, and we think a deal will happen in the not-too-distant future.”

As Pittsburgh Steelers running back DeAngelo Williams (@DeAngeloRB) tweeted Thursday night:

“Took 5-seconds watching #TNF on [Twitter] to know this is the wave of the future.”


Stay tuned.

Jim O’Neill is Editor of Videomind and Principal Analyst at Brightcove. You can follow him on Twitter @JimONeillMedia and on LinkedIn