Twitter upbeat about live sports, may expand NFL partnership

Emboldened by the win-win deal with National Football League (NFL) in the US, Twitter is looking to expand its partnership.

After the company’s fourth quarter earnings report, the company has sent a communication to shareholders, calling it “the major highlight of the fourth quarter”. The streaming of the games had an average audience of 3.5 million unique viewers per game, according to Twitter.

The number of viewers may be only a fraction of the viewers that cable networks had. But it could be the beginning of a new trend that could catch on soon, Twitter is hoping.

According to reports, Twitter had paid $10 million to NFL to stream 10 Thursday night NFL games for this season.

NFL fans around the world had the option to watch free streaming of the games, thanks to the deal it had with Twitter. Twitter’s younger audience and international reach were the reasons why NFL had partnered with Twitter. 55 per cent of Twitter users are under 25 while 25 per cent of them are located out the US.

Twitter had similar streaming deals with National Basketball Association and Major League Baseball as well. Half of the 600 hours of live programming in did during the October-December quarter was about sports.

While the company is gung-ho about its association with popular sport in the US, it has not had a positive impact on its subscriber base. Its revenue and subscriber figures have been flat, which sent the stock down nearly 10 per cent after the results were announced.

Twitter has 317 million subscribers against Facebook’s 1.87 billion. Its Periscope is competing for live sporting events with Facebook Live which has a huge subscriber base advantage. After touching the 300 million mark in the fourth quarter of 2014, Twitter’s subscriber base has plateaued. Facebook’s subscriber base has grown by 540 million during the same period