clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Here’s what live sports looks like on Twitter

Twitter is streaming Wimbledon, our first glimpse at how live sports will work on Twitter.

Adam Pretty / Getty Images

Twitter wants to get into the business of streaming live sports — that’s why the company paid the NFL $10 million for the rights to stream some of the league’s Thursday Night Football games later this fall.

What we still don’t know is what watching live sports on Twitter actually looks like. That is, how is it any different from, say, streaming an NFL game through NBC or CBS or ESPN?

On Wednesday, we found out. Twitter started streaming from Wimbledon, one of the most-watched tennis tournaments of the year. Wimbledon’s official Twitter account tweeted the live feed early Wednesday morning, giving us our first glimpse at how Twitter plans to stream live sports more broadly.

The setup for now appears to leave the video stream pinned to the top of a dedicated "Live" page on Twitter, with a scrollable list of Wimbledon-related tweets below. Pairing the Twitter conversation around a sporting event directly with the livestream itself has been Twitter’s pitch for why it should stream these kind of events versus other tech companies like Amazon or Verizon.

You can check out the page for yourself here.


Update: One major downside: Twitter will not stream live matches, which is usually the thing you’d want to watch at Wimbledon. The company will have access to live interviews and analysis and match replays, but ESPN still holds the U.S. digital streaming rights for all live matches at Wimbledon. Twitter initially implied that its stream would include live match footage, but has since confirmed that it will not.

Is this what we can assume Twitter’s NFL streams will look like? It’s hard to tell. A company spokesperson referred to the Wimbledon stream as an "extremely early and incomplete test experience."

In other words, Twitter want to get the kinks out now before its more prominent NFL streams arrive — which is probably a good thing because Twitter’s Wimbledon stream is about as basic as it gets. The NFL’s Thursday Night games drew more than twice as many viewers as the Wimbledon men’s final did in 2015.

Here’s Twitter’s full statement on the Wimbledon stream:

"Twitter is increasingly a place where people can find live streaming video, and that includes exciting sporting events like Wimbledon. This livestream 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 declined to comment on any and all terms of the Wimbledon deal. That means we don’t know how much Twitter paid for the streaming rights, or if it is selling ads alongside the video feed. (Twitter will sell ads alongside the NFL games this fall, and is hoping to make some good money on the ad packages it’s selling.)

Twitter worked with both Wimbledon and ESPN to make this happen. ESPN bought exclusive TV rights for Wimbledon back in 2011, and the stream on Twitter includes a mix of content from Wimbledon and ESPN.

Eventually Twitter would like more deals like this. "We’re not just talking to the leagues, we’re also talking to the broadcast partners of the leagues and the cable network partners of the leagues," Twitter CFO Anthony Noto told Recode back in April.

Whether or not Twitter secures those rights is another question, but showing existing rights holders that it can put together a strong viewing experience should help.

Update: Twitter is not selling ads against this Wimbledon stream like it will against its NFL streams, according to a person familiar with the arrangement.

Facebook bots served up highlights during the NBA Finals

This article originally appeared on

Sign up for the newsletter Today, Explained

Understand the world with a daily explainer plus the most compelling stories of the day.