- Adidas partnered with Twitter on a series of livestreaming high school football games called "Friday Night Stripes." The eight-game series features nationally ranked teams from across the U.S. and will run from Sept. 7 to Nov. 9, according to a statement.
- Viewers can watch live coverage for each game at a special Twitter account, @adidasFballUS, on computers, tablets or mobile devices. Twitter also will show a timeline featuring real-time conversations about the game in an effort to create a unified online experience for viewers.
- ESPN and SEC Network's play-by-play announcer Courtney Lyle will cover the games, with commentary by A.J. Hawk, formerly of the Green Bay Packers, and sideline reporting by YouTube personality Cameron "Scooter" Magruder. Special guests also will appear throughout the series. Intersports is producing the streamed videos.
Adidas's sponsorship of Twitter's high-school football streams appears to be an attempt to reach a younger audience of sports fans who tune in to sports content on mobile apps and show their dedication to the sport by keeping up with the next generation of player talent. The TV audience for football has declined in recent years for various reasons, including a shift in viewership to online platforms that Twitter likely wants to capture.
The news also points to how Twitter is working directly with brands to help them develop livestreaming opportunities that address their audience's interest in digital video and real-time access at a time when competitors like Amazon, Facebook and YouTube are putting big money behind securing streaming rights for major sporting events. Earlier this year, Twitter introduced its Live Brand Studio service, which helps brands determine the best content to showcase and develop a media plan.
Adidas has enough brand recognition that could attract a decent-sized audience. It has the most-shared logo of any other brand on social media, according to a ranking this year by researcher Brandwatch that placed the sportswear brand ahead of Nike, Puma and Under Armour, signaling that consumers are already engaging with the brand on social platforms like Twitter, where the football streams will appear.
Meanwhile, the median age of viewers for National Football League games has risen 14% to 50 years since 2006, per data from Magna Global. That's still younger than the median age for the four biggest U.S. broadcasters — ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC — which has risen 19% to 56 years in the same period. Average national NFL viewership among the 18 to 34 age group declined 14% in 2017 from a year earlier, but the games still manage to draw large audiences compared with other kinds of programming and online viewership. Adidas aims to capture the attention of this age group that's slipping in sports viewership by streaming content on a mobile platform that's familiar with younger consumers.
Amazon last year streamed 11 "Thursday Night Football" broadcasts that averaged a per-minute audience of 310,000 viewers, or about 2% of the average TV audience of 14.1 million viewers, according to Nielsen data cited by Ad Age. This points to how consumers are somewhat responsive to digital alternatives for viewing sports content, a positive signal for Adidas in its new partnership.