Twitter has been at a crossroads for a while now, as their user numbers continue to stagnate and the company continues to bleed money. At the core of their problem is the way people use the platform itself–to link out to other content and click away from Twitter. Facebook found success when they realized they could keep users on their platform instead of sending them away to other websites, but Twitter has been unable to figure it out. Now their acquisition of streaming rights to Thursday night NFL games has pointed them in the right direction.
For months Twitter considered increasing beyond the traditional 140-character tweets as a way to get content creators to write directly on the platform and keep eyes on the site, but they ultimately rejected the idea. Instead, it looks like Twitter will be heading into the business of online streaming, which could be a better direction for them to go in. While it isn’t so clear what infrastructure is in place to host streaming video, Twitter is uniquely qualified as a platform where people go to follow media. Users have been live tweeting television shows for years, so watching media directly on the platform makes sense as the next step.
Just two months ago I wrote about how Twitter can save itself by keeping users on the platform and focusing on live content, and this move is exactly what they needed. At no point did I anticipate live streaming as a possibility, but the ideas were there. They have needed to keep users on the platform for a while now, and focusing on live content–even streaming–is a great way to tap into the younger audience that might not be using Twitter all that much.
If they handle it correctly, this is the metamorphosis that the company has needed for a long time. They are failing as a social media network, but are thriving as a following platform and this move fits perfectly into that mold. Turning the platform into a one-stop-shop for media and interaction is the best way to marry content with their live commenting capabilities. If they can integrate streaming video without altering how people use Twitter, it will help generate profits while also keeping their users happy.
They just need to be careful they don’t fall into the same trap that Yahoo fell into before when they purchased the online streaming rights to an NFL game that had no one watching and no one buying ad space. Twitter has the perfect example of what not to do, both in terms of technical presentation and marketing strategy, to hopefully find success for the platform.
Twitter is now in the fray as a media company, and there’s no telling where they could go from here. Word is that Facebook was also in on the bidding, so they need to get things right before the competition surpasses them. They just hit the big time, but that doesn’t mean they are in the clear just yet–Twitter still has to swim with the big fish.