Twitter's New NFL Live Video Feature Is Proving Popular

Twitter Inc. did something right.

For several months now, the San Francisco-based company has touted its streaming deal with the NFL as a cornerstone of its media strategy. Twitter is betting that users and advertisers will show up by making it a place where people can watch live video alongside tweets. The first of 10 Thursday night streams happened tonight, and broadly speaking, the verdict from users was positive.

Twitter is relying on live video to turn around its fortunes, after several quarters of stagnant user growth and slowing sales. Football fans said they appreciated the stream and were asking for more opportunities to watch games that way—something Twitter has been working on with deals in other sports.

Since Twitter went public in 2013, investors and analysts have criticized the company's lack of product innovation compared with faster-moving competitors such as Facebook Inc. and Snapchat Inc. For the NFL streaming feature, Twitter repackaged its product to make it easier to follow for people without accounts, showing live video alongside tweets about the game.

While reviews were generally positive about the quality of the feed, some users complained that Twitter's stream was delayed compared to what others saw on cable TV. Others said they wanted to see their own Twitter timelines alongside the video, instead of the ones curated by Twitter. One complaint was specific to the licensing issues: Buffalo Bills fans in Canada couldn't watch it.