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Thanks to Twitter now you can enjoy 24-hour video streaming

Catch Team | Updated on: 27 April 2017, 9:34 IST
(File photo)

In 2016, Twitter had purchased the digital streaming rights for the National Football League's (NFL) Thursday night games, all ten in total. In doing so, Twitter beat out Amazon, Facebook and Yahoo. This year, Twitter lost out to Amazon for the season's rights. The age old question was brought up again; is this the end of Twitter?

The simple answer is no. Twitter, in a statement after news of Amazon's NFL news leaked, said that in just Q1 of 2017, more than “800 hours of live stream content from over 400 events across sports, news, politics and entertainment” was aired on the micro-blogging website.

“Since last year, we have collaborated on over 40 live stream partnerships and we will continue to bring the best live content to our customers around the world.”

That got a further boost on 25 April. Twitter COO and CFO Anthony Noto, speaking to BuzzFeed News, threw a bombshell. Noto said that the company planned to broadcast video content across genres - sports, news and entertainment - 24 hours a day, seven days a week inside its apps and desktop site.

No date was announced as Noto specified that it would take some time for the company to get to that point. “We will definitely have 24/7 [video] content on Twitter,” Noto said during the extensive interview with BuzzFeed. “Our goal is to be a dependable place so that when you want to see what’s happening, you think of going to Twitter.”

It was the NFL streaming deal that spurned Twitter into doubling down on its video content. “It was instrumental,” he told BuzzFeed News. “It’s a really high profile brand and one that has really high expectations for product quality. It caused people to come and see if we could deliver.” Twitter went on to strike deals and broadcast US presidential debates.

Twitter is targeting the “ambient digital video" market which competitors like Netflix, HBO and Amazon haven't tapped into. “We think that is a great way to have the programming carried along with you during your day,” Noto said, explaining how users might consume content.

“Focus in on it when you hear something that’s of interest, but then maybe not be 100% focused on it when it’s not of interest. I did that myself during the debates.”

Brian Ach/Getty Images for TechCrunch/AFP

Why go all in

The move by Twitter to have an 'always-on' TV is that it'll give the social media network the opportunity to sell 15 and 30-second unskippable video ads that are increasingly valuable.

In short, it'll help the company monetise its platform. The company has also proven that it can support a large audience for streaming content, as evident from the major events it has already streamed on its platform.

The numbers don't lie

In both the USA and India, live streaming of content is rapidly gaining in popularity. In the USA it's all about people ditching their cable subscriptions in favour of having the flexibility to stream what they want.

In India, live streaming is booming as more people have access to affordable internet and more people upgrade from feature phones to smartphones - especially 4G smartphones.

BuzzFeed News lists some impressive numbers for Twitter's live streaming:

  • NFL: Average of 3.5 million unique viewers
  • Oscars pre and post shows: 6.4 million combined
  • Inauguration day coverage courtesy PBS: 8.6 million unique viewers

In fact, Twitter's live video feeds reached more than 45 million viewers. That's a 31% increase over the same period last year.

In India, according to media reports, Hotstar has managed to do what was previously unthinkable. For the first two weeks of the biggest sporting event this year, the Indian Premier League, the streaming service garnered 36.4 million viewers compared to the 34.9 million viewers watching on the television. This was in cities with a population of 1 million among males 15 years and above.

With a booming internet audience capable of streaming content at affordable prices, it makes sense for Twitter to go all in on video content.

For now, Twitter's 24/7 plans are US-based content and there is no word on the street as to when it'll launch abroad. If the service catches on, which it seems to already have - with those 800 hours number - it'll won't be long before international audiences get local content streaming on Twitter TV.

24/7 TV is a great ay of keeping users glued to the website, whether or not they're constantly tweeting and sharing information on the platform. That, in effect, will boost its bottom line, and sure enough, with a flagging stock, Twitter needs some boost.

First published: 27 April 2017, 9:30 IST