Why the NFL’s Thursday Night Game Could Make or Break Twitter’s Future

Cincinnati Bengals v New York Jets
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 11: Jalin Marshall #89 of the New York Jets returns a kickoff against the Cincinnati Bengals at MetLife Stadium on September 11, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The Cincinnati Bengals defeated the New York Jets 23-22. (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images)
Steven Ryan Getty Images

Thursday night’s NFL matchup between the New York Jets and the Buffalo Bills is about much more than football for Twitter (TWTR) Chief Executive Jack Dorsey.

His company has spent millions this year on live stream video deals with America’s top sports leagues, including the NFL. And after months of acquisition rumors and negative analyst reports on Twitter’s lack of growth potential, the company’s is banking on pro football’s popularity to fuel it’s live stream demand and related ad purchases.

“Having that live programming every night when sports are playing — with no paywall, no logging in and directly from the source — that’s key to us,” Twitter CFO Anthony Noto told the New York Times in August. “Our opportunity is to use these familiar platforms that people understand, like streaming video, as a window into seeing everything else we really have available.”

The Wall Street Journal reports some advertisers aren’t sold yet on Twitter live stream ads, as questions remain about the value of watching football games on a relatively small smartphone screen.

Wendy’s media and digital advertising head Brandon Rhoten told the Journal he is pleased with the results of Wendy’s regular Twitter video ads, which appear in Twitter users’ feeds, but he wants to see viewership ratings on the site’s NFL live stream and related ad-inspired conversations to assess whether or not users absorb the message.


“It’s kind of the wild west of the moment,” Rhoten told the Journal.


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