For NFL fans, Twitter has mostly just been a platform for issuing death threats to placekickers who miss crucial field goals. But that all changes tonight, when Twitter begins livestreaming Thursday Night Football, which it will do for much of the season, starting with the New York Jets-Buffalo Bills contest at 5:25 p.m. PT. According to an email this reporter received from Twitter about an hour ago, the games will be streamed “in full HD” though pretty every internet video stream claims to be “full HD” these days regardless of its actual picture quality.
Still, this is a nice development for cord-cutting fans and a banner moment for the recently-beleaguered Twitter (unless the platform crashes again, of course). The game stream will be available — completely for free, with no cable subscription or Twitter account required — at TNF.twitter.com or on your Moments tab, which is the “lightning bolt” icon that you only ever click on by accident.
BREAKING: NFL Fans Looking Forward To Brands' Social Media Posts With Photos Of Their Products Next To Football— ADWEAK (@adweak) September 7, 2016
The stream will also feature a prominent sidebar of “game-related tweets” that promise a mix of targeted brand advertisements and hashtagged tweets from regular users that are by and large so illiterate they make YouTube comments look like Isaac Asimov footnotes.
What is novel here is that this stream will be available on all smartphones and tablets, a luxury not afforded to most NFL livestream watchers. Because of the NFL’s exclusive deal with Verizon, most regular season game livestreams are only available on smartphones to Verizon customers. Furthermore, those streams require an additional app, whereas Thursday Night Football on Twitter will be streamed on all mobile browsers, with no auxiliary app install required.
For local 49ers and Raiders fans, your teams’ obligatory Thursday Night Football appearances are 49ers-Cardinals (October 6) and Raiders-Chiefs (December 8), both of which will be streamed on Twitter as well. Twitter will be livestreaming all of the Thursday games broadcast on CBS and NBC, but not those broadcast on the NFL Network. That means 10 Thursday night games are livestreaming for free, and here is that schedule for cable-avoiding cheapskates:
- Week 2, Sept. 15: New York Jets at Buffalo Bills
- Week 3, Sept. 22: Houston Texans at New England Patriots
- Week 5, Oct. 6: Arizona Cardinals at San Francisco 49ers
- Week 6, Oct. 13: Denver Broncos at San Diego Chargers
- Week 7, Oct. 20: Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers
- Week 11, Nov. 17: New Orleans Saints at Carolina Panthers
- Week 13, Dec. 1: Dallas Cowboys at Minnesota Vikings
- Week 14, Dec. 8: Oakland Raiders at Kansas City Chiefs
- Week 15, Dec. 15: Los Angeles Rams at Seattle Seahawks
- Week 16, Dec. 22: New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles