Twitter may have missed estimates with its Q4 revenue targets and recorded a small, 4 percent year-on-year increase in its monthly active users (MAUs), but the social network’s recent push into live video streaming of big events is now a key focal point as it strives to increase its stickiness.
In its letter to shareholders, Twitter revealed that 31 million unique viewers tuned in to more than 600 hours of live video across around 400 events between September and December. You may recall that last year Twitter revealed it was effectively becoming a global TV network after it won the online rights to stream Thursday night NFL games in full. It also partnered with BuzzFeed for a U.S. presidential election livestream, while other tidbits included a partnership with Disney to broadcast live footage around the launch of the new Star Wars movie. Of its Q4 live video events, Twitter says that 52 were sports, 38 percent was news and politics, and 10 percent was entertainment.
Throw into the mix the company’s recent PGA golf tour video partnership (not part of the Q4 viewing figures), and it’s clearer than ever where Twitter sees opportunity for growth.
The company noted:
We’re providing significant value to our live premium content partners, helping them extend their reach globally with approximately 33 percent of unique viewers outside the US, and helping them reach a younger audience with approximately 50 percent of viewers under the age of 25.
Back in September, Twitter launched its own dedicated live video app for Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, and Xbox One, as the company looked to migrate from phones, tablets, and PCs, into a living room experience for the family.
However, Twitter is also aware that mobile screens are where many users almost exclusively exist, which is why it recently rolled out docking within its iOS app that allows people to watch live videos while continuing to check out other content on Twitter. During Twitter’s earnings call today, CEO Jack Dorsey revealed that mobile was indeed the most popular medium for watching video. “The majority of the people that consumed the product were not were not in front of televisions, they only consumed it on mobile applications,” he said.
Regardless of how people consume content on Twitter, the important facet of its big video push is that it opens up new ways to monetize content on the platform.
“What we’re doing in video positions us to capture ad-dollars that are not in this very competitive digital advertising bucket,” added Dorsey. “And we’ve started to tap into those dollars through our live video product and will continue to invest in it.”
While Twitter is also opening live video up from a user perspective, recently introducing Periscope livestreaming directly into the main Twitter app and broadcasting around 6.6 million hours of live video in Q4, it’s the premium content from big-name broadcasters and brands that it hopes will spur real growth moving forward.