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Is Twitter Bound to Drown in Live Video Stream?

by Belfort Group | Thought Leadership
May 10, 2017

Twitter is great for a lot of things.

Is there a breaking news situation? Check Twitter. Did a celebrity die? Twitter will tell you (or confirm if it’s a hoax). Who is President Donald Trump cheering or jeering today? It’s on Twitter.

But when it comes to watching content that’s being streamed live, Twitter isn’t exactly top of mind for too many people.

The company announced a new live-streaming deal with Bloomberg earlier this week to create a 24-hour breaking news channel on Twitter launching sometime this fall. The company also unveiled 16 new live-streaming deals, including a partnership with LiveNation that will show concerts and the rights to broadcast one WNBA basketball game per week.

Twitter officials said the goal is for users to see what’s happening and comment on it in real-time, and the various deals will include exclusive original live programming, live games, events and other live-streaming content.

But while Twitter’s stock is enjoying a nice bump this week, the question of whether it will be successful as a purveyor of live-streaming content, remains.

Twitter does well for big events, like when it streamed coverage of some of the presidential debates. People could watch the debate live while delivering snarky political commentary in real-time. And while millions come to Twitter daily for the ultimate reality show that is President Donald Trump, are there enough political junkies to warrant the Bloomberg 24-hour news channel as opposed to one-off events?

The problem with Twitter’s foray into online live-streaming is its stiff competition with deep pockets.

For instance, Twitter won widespread acclaim last year for live-streaming select Thursday Night NFL football games where users were watching the game and leaving comments. However, Amazon swooped in and outbid Twitter to stream the games in 2017.

And with Amazon Prime, Snapchat, Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, and Apple all in the same space, Twitter is going to face some immense competition as it swims up the live-stream.

In order for Twitter to succeed, it’s going to have to find a way to innovate but still play to its strengths. Breaking news, politics, and live sports/concerts for cord-cutters while providing a second-screen experience will be crucial for Twitter as it maps out a strategy to battle Netflix’s award-winning pre-recorded programs, and Snapchat’s youthful short-form videos.

Also of the utmost importance is Twitter’s continued emphasis on artificial intelligence that will decrease the toxicity and abuse, which has driven some high profile Twitter users off the platform.

Will it be enough for Twitter to carve out a live-stream niche for itself that allows it to compete in a crowded space? Time will tell. But at the very least, it’s forcing companies to rethink and reimagine television and that’s good news for everyone.

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