Twitter uses Wimbledon to test live sports streams minus the sports
Twitter tested out its live streaming chops with some Wimbledon-adjacent content ahead of this fall's NFL broadcasts.
Early into every NFL preseason, teams practice without pads. It’s a way to shake off the rust without risking injury. A couple of months ahead of livestreaming regular season NFL games on Twitter, the social network held its own version of this kind of practice.
On Wednesday, Twitter tested out a live stream of tennis grand slam event Wimbledon, but without any actual tennis. For roughly seven hours, people were able to tune into a live stream of people talking about Wimbledon. The closest people got to tuning into Twitter to watch a live match was the post-match interviews with the players who had competed in them.
Asked why Twitter didn’t air any actual matches during the live stream, a Twitter spokesperson said the point was just to test the platform’s live streaming functionality, which may have been made easier by the lack of compelling content on the level of live sports. It also might have to do with ESPN owning US digital live streaming rights for Wimbledon matches through 2023 and how much money Twitter may have had to pay ESPN to piggyback its exclusivity.
So was the test a success? Hard to say. For its part, Twitter won’t say how many people tuned into the live stream, whether it made money from the live stream or paid money to Wimbledon’s owner, the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, or ESPN to host the live stream.
And if you missed the live stream, you missed the live stream. Twitter has no plans to post the recorded version, according to the company spokesperson. The only remnant of Twitter’s Wimbledon live stream is the page on which it aired, which shows the video player and a stream of Wimbledon-related tweets. Conceivably pairing the live stream and a live Twitter feed is the entire point of what Twitter has to offer the NFL for its live streams later this year, even if the look of the live stream wasn’t that different from live streams on YouTube, Facebook and Amazon’s Twitch.