The National Football League (NFL) on Tuesday debuted a half-hour live news and analysis show on Twitter, the micro-blogging app with 68 million users in the U.S. The show will run exclusively on Twitter four days a week throughout the 2017-18 season, Variety reported.
"#NFLBlitz" is available at NFL.twitter.com and the @NFL account on Twitter. The show, which is produced from the NFL Network's studio in Los Angeles, will run Monday through Thursday each week until Super Bowl Sunday on Feb. 4. Ad revenue for the show will be split by Twitter and the league, Variety said.
The show, which is hosted by NFL Network's Marc Istook and Erin Coscarelli, covers a full range of football season topics including breaking news, highlights, pregame analysis, fantasy projections and team power rankings. The hosts will also focus on football trends that show up in social media data and chatter, according to Variety.
Twitter is among the social media companies that are building out video programming as a way to keep users engaged with their apps and to lure more major brand advertisers. Twitter's NFL show is part of a multi-year agreement to also simulcast live coverage of NFL Media's "Fantasy Gameday," which runs on Sundays during the regular season on NFL.com, Variety said.
Twitter live-streamed the NFL's "Thursday Night Football" last year, but was outbid by Amazon for rights to show the 10-game package for the upcoming season. Amazon reportedly paid $50 million for the streaming rights, compared with $10 million paid last year by Twitter. All of these developments point to the high value digital streaming and social platforms are putting on sports-related content, especially as major sports organizations look to alternative outlets to TV, a channel which has, in recent years, experienced steep ratings declines.
As part of its efforts to grow exclusive video programming, Twitter reached a deal with BuzzFeed, the web publisher with 2.2 billion monthly video views, to host a live weekday morning show that will debut next month. Bank of America, Wendy's and Toyota are lined up as early sponsors. In April, Twitter partnered with Bloomberg to create a 24-hour news service that is also set to debut in the fall.
The success of these new video content offerings is vital to Twitter's business prospects. Last month, Twitter reported declines in U.S. audience numbers and sales. According to reports, average monthly active users in the U.S. decreased to 68 million in Q2 from 70 million in the previous quarter. The overall average monthly active user number was flat at 328 million. In the same period, ad revenue fell 8% to $489 million from a year earlier.
Twitter has tried to make its platform more appealing to advertisers by cleaning out abusive accounts and objectionable content based on user complaints. Troll accounts and bots have dogged the company, which has prided itself for protecting free speech and user anonymity. Research indicates that as much as 9% to 15% of Twitter accounts are bots, according to a March report from the University of Southern California and Indiana University. As the company faces challenges with a stagnating or declining user base, it needs to figure out more ways to monetize its audience of users who are very committed to using the platform.