NFL Twitter Live Stream: a Resounding Success

By: D.J. Podgorny, @DJPodgorny

In last night's match-up that featured the New Jets routing the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium, a new precedent for digital media in professional sports was set. The contest kicked off the first of 10 Thursday Night Football games that will be streamed live on Twitter this season.

The NFL's partnership with Twitter marks the second attempt to offer live streaming of games, free of charge. Last fall, the league collaborated with Yahoo! to provide free online coverage of the NFL International Series match between the Jaguars and Bills.

The price-tag to broadcast NFL football on the social media platform: around $1 million per game. When considering the recent $900 million agreement the league recently made with NBC and CBS for Thursday Night Football and the overall positive reception from last night's go-live, Twitter appears to be sitting pretty. 

From start to finish, the live stream continually impressed. The video quality was stunningly high, buffering was virtually non-existent, and lagging was minimal. Daren Rovell's (@darrenrovell) poll of 4k+ fans conveyed the overall positive impression:

The excitement of experiencing professional football live on social media ignited Twitter. Players and teams from across the league participated in generating buzz for the event:

While the initial event was most definitely a success for both the NFL and Twitter alike, there are still many improvements to be made. A reduction in the lag time, as well as an overhaul to the live feed are among the most glaring issues that should be addressed when the Patriots square off against the Texans next week. Overall though, the experiment went better than almost anyone could have anticipated.

Only time will tell if Twitter and the NFL can successfully build an audience around their latest feature; many will anxiously await the initial viewership ratings. And while the impact of today's launch on the future of sports media at large is still yet to be determined, it is certainly a step in the right direction. I personally can't wait to see how it evolves. 

You can stream the remaining nine NFL Thursday Night Football games live, free of cost at tnf.twitter.com.

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