By George Slefo
Twitter said Wednesday that it had debuted its first live stream broadcast, featuring live game play from Wimbledon, but those hoping to see Roger Federer take on Marin Cilic wouldn't have found the match there.
The stream, a chance for Twitter to test its streaming capabilities before it carries 10 NFL games in the upcoming season, was actually commentary, highlights and replays.
That's because it was made possible by a deal with ESPN, which gave Twitter permission to show replays and highlights. For live matches, you still had to turn to an ESPN property.
"Twitter is increasingly a place where people can find live streaming video, and that includes exciting sporting events like Wimbledon," Twitter said in a statement. "This live stream is an extremely early and incomplete test experience, and we'll be making lots of improvements before we launch it in its final form."
Twitter did not sell any ads against its Wimbledon coverage, a company spokesman said.
Twitter has a lot riding on the success of the NFL package, for which it paid about $10 million.
The spokesman said Twitter has sold more than 60% of its NFL inventory to marketers, adding that it closed a deal with Bank of America during the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity in France.
Meanwhile, Twitter is in the final stages of closing "about 10" different partnerships with media providers to stream live content on its platform, a person familiar with the talks told Ad Age.
And as the presidential election nears, at least one of those partnerships will focus on politics. The source declined to identify potential partners for the streams.
For marketers, not all of the live stream offerings will include the opportunity to advertise, at least not initially, the person familiar with the talks said. The company wants people to get familiar with the product and will only include advertising where it makes sense, such as sports, for example. But it does plan to make money from all its live streams eventually.
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