Twitter announced its latest numbers for Q1 2017 this morning, and while its revenues made for grim reading, dropping 8 percent year-on-year, the company gave investors a little bit of good news — its monthly active user (MAU) base had grown by 9 million people (6 percent) on the previous quarter.
Tying into this growth is Twitter’s continued push into premium live video, as the social network strives to increase its stickiness, particularly for those not signed into a Twitter account. In its latest letter to shareholders, the company said that it streamed more than 800 hours of live premium video in Q1, video which emanated from more than 450 events and reached 45 million unique viewers (logged-in and logged-out).
Compared to 600 hours and 31 million viewers the previous quarter, this represents a growth of almost one-third, which seems like another notable increase. But it may not tell the whole story. Indeed, a single unique viewership is defined by a video being at least 50 percent in view on a user’s screen for at least two seconds, so it doesn’t necessarily mean that 45 million people watched an entire livestream. However, the same criteria was used to define viewership in Q4 2016, so it does still hint at increased engagement.
Notably, 60 percent of Twitter’s unique viewers were based outside the U.S., and 55 percent were under the age of 25 — to garner this data, Twitter could only use viewers who were logged into their accounts.
Twitter has been turbocharging its efforts to become something akin to a global TV network and last year won a number of rights to stream premium content, including Thursday night NFL games. It also partnered with BuzzFeed for a U.S. presidential election livestream, Disney for a live event around the launch of the new Star Wars movie, and the PGA for golf coverage. Since then, Twitter has inked a number of other video deals across sports, esports, and politics. In Q1, the company said that more than half (51 percent) of its viewing hours came from sports, while more than a third (35 percent) came from news and politics.
It’s also worth noting here that Twitter is gearing up to begin producing original content, so video will continue to play a core part in Twitter’s growth strategy moving forward. “We have made major investments in video over the past few years, and being able to present the breadth, depth, and quality of that content at Newfronts (IAB’s digital content conference) is the ultimate culmination of those efforts,” explained Twitter’s vice president of global revenue and operations, Matthew Derella, last month. “In 2017 and beyond, we are investing further in the video viewing experience, content development and collaborations, and video solutions for advertisers…”
Ahead of Twitter’s earnings announcement today, the company said that it eventually plans to stream video 24/7, and in an interview with BuzzFeed, Twitter COO and CFO Anthony Noto said: “We will definitely have 24/7 content on Twitter. Our goal is to be a dependable place so that when you want to see what’s happening, you think of going to Twitter.”
Part of Twitter’s quest to move into video involves taking over the living room, and last September it launched a dedicated live video app for a number of platforms, including Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, and Xbox One. However, during last quarter’s earnings call, CEO Jack Dorsey said that mobile remained the most popular medium for watching video. “The majority of the people that consumed the product were not in front of televisions, they only consumed it on mobile applications,” he said.
Elsewhere in the video realm, Twitter is also ramping up its livestreaming toolsets for Periscope. Last month, the company announced that it was making its Periscope Producer service more accessible with a new API that lets developers and broadcasters stream live video through their computer, camera, Xbox, and VR headset without having to connect through the Periscope app. Shortly after, Twitter also revealed that it was bringing pre-roll ads to live videos on Periscope.
Put simply, we can expect Twitter to announce many more video initiatives in the months ahead as it continues to explore in-stream and mid-roll advertising opportunities to grow its bottom line.