Will Twitter’s Live Broadcast of NFL Football Help Save the Struggling Network?

twitterIn case you haven’t heard, Twitter has plans to stream NFL games and the first of 10 is set for Thursday night. The match between the New York Jets and the Buffalo Bills will actually stream exclusively on Twitter as part of a major initiative to improve video streaming of live events—and particularly sporting events—through the popular social media network as a means to take advantage of continued online use and engagement and driver user viewership.

Of course, this may also help with ad sales.

According to Twitter chief financial officer Anthony Noto, this strategy is a crucial element that will continue to differentiate why and how people use Twitter. Now, Noto had, at one point, served as the CFO for the National Football League so it makes sense that he would be instrumental in this new partnership.

He comments, “At the end of the day we have two jobs with our audience: We have to, in a very clear way, describe why they should use Twitter, and then we have to make the product so simple they don’t have to understand how to use Twitter, and the live experience is a familiar experience.”

At the same time, this new deal is not necessarily crucial for either company. Twitter paid only about $10 million for the entire NFL package (of ten games, so about $1 million per game. That might sound like a lot of money to the average person, but you have to remember that CBS, for example, paid $45 million for the rights to broadcast the same games on network television.

More importantly, Twitter has $3.6 billion in cash, so paying $10 million is like throwing pocket change at the NFL, for Twitter at least.

This is important for Twitter, of course, as the company has been struggling to regain lost revenue as growth has been in decline, steadily, over the past two years despite growth in user base has slowed to nearly a halt. In fact, Twitter shares have lost half their value—from $36 a share last June to $18 a share, Tuesday—and Twitter’s board of directors has had to figure out new ways to garner revenue or discussing selling the company.

In fact, Jackdaw Research chief analyst Jan Dawson notes, “We seem to be almost exactly where we were a year ago. There seems to be very little progress on some of the big things in terms of getting user growth going again, in terms of making Twitter more accessible for new users, in terms of dealing with abuse, in terms of driving revenue growth.”

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