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Twitter is Dead! Long Live Twitter!

I had already started writing this when the Twitter landscape changed yesterday (again!). The change I’m talking about is the announcement that Twitter has won the bid to live-stream Thursday night NFL games. This indicates a significant change to the platform’s offering.

Let me go back to what this post was going to be about. I was going to talk about how people have been heralding the death of Twitter for a while now. We’ve heard the complaints: the new algorithm timeline; Lower website referrals than Facebook; Twitter is more for branding than for generating business.

I was going to talk about a conversation I had about 6 years ago with a colleague. We were having lunch in the office canteen and the Champions League draw was taking place in Switzerland. We were both following the draw on our mobile phones — he was on the BBC ‘live’ text feed and I was on Twitter. I explained to him the simple reason I was getting the draw before he was: Thousands of tweeters were watching the draw live on tv and playing a game of ‘fastest finger first’ to share the news, many of whom had tweeted before the BBC’s correspondent in Switzerland could even hit the ‘upload’ button.

The first reason that Twitter is going nowhere, I would have said, is because there is still no replacement for this experience. People flock to Twitter for the fastest updates on any news story. In fact, if Twitter did die, we simply wouldn’t know where to go to immediately find out how it happened and to pay our respects!!

Live streaming has made a huge impact on social media over the past year, and I’ll admit that if this had been around 6 years ago then maybe that would have been a fraction of a second quicker in delivering the Champions League draw to my phone, but even if that fact signalled an end to Twitter as the fastest news source available, a reminder that Twitter owns Periscope. And that Periscope now appears natively within Twitter’s feed.

I’ve wondered whether Twitter might abandon the separate Periscope app and adopt the video feed within the Twitter platform (think ‘swipe right’ snapchat-style to access your periscope feed in full screen…). Hard to know, but either way I saw this as a ‘panic button’ option if the 140 character timeline was in any real danger of losing out to video.

Today’s announcement means I don’t really need to say any of this. Twitter apparently beat out some strong competition from current streaming giants to land the NFL deal, and the integration to its existing platform offers huge potential for social consumption of sports, for advertising, for live reactive social media by brands and for many other aspects of sports consumption. I’ve since heard that the deal includes exclusive pre-game player interviews to be streamed via Periscope.

When I heard initially that Facebook was bidding for this package of games, I was excited. I saw huge potential for Virtual Reality streaming due to Facebook’s Oculus tech. Now I’m excited for other reasons, probably more as a marketer than a sports consumer, but one fact remains: Despite what you may have though – Twitter is not rolling over, it’s scoring a touchdown!


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