Featured Profile - Alex Trickett - Head of Sport - Twitter UK Share PDF Print E-mail
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AlexTrickettIt’s become the hot topic in the broadcast sector; social media as a potential platform to air live content.

This is fast becoming a reality with Twitter agreeing to show live Thursday night NFL games, Facebook agreeing to show a Spanish Women’s soccer fixture, and BT Sport partnering with YouTube to broadcast the Europa and Champions League finals.

Alex Trickett is Head of Sport at Twitter UK he explains how Twitter has become more than just 140 characters:

“You have to think about the rich media experience. There was a time when a Tweet was 140 characters – just text, maybe there was a photo but that’s not where we are any more, it’s about rich content; video, photos, GIFs and polls – things that make the audience feel closer to the action.”

“Use Vine, Periscope, broadcast live, show things that the fans at home can’t otherwise see and you’ll tap into a rich vein of opportunity.”

The increased opportunity of broadcasting live on social media appears to be scratching the surface so far; will we see more sports look at Facebook and Twitter as broadcast alternatives? Will they be competitors for the likes of ESPN, Sky Sports and NBC?

Trickett continues: “Live is at the core of everything we do. If you think about a breaking news story or a sports story, that moment is celebrated on Twitter, that’s where people will celebrate first as they know that’s where like-minded people will be and their message will go out to the whole world.”

 “We do great things in the live environment and the NFL deal is an extension of that. I think increasingly you’ll see live rights broadcast on Twitter to bring the whole experience together – that doesn’t mean we’re creating an exclusive environment, those rights might be broadcast via TV partners around the world – we offer a complementary audience that reaches more people.”

Stuart Ferreira-Cole is Regional Director of Western Europe for video technology experts Ooyala.

He believes that there will now be a steady flow of social networks acquiring rights to live fixtures.

“Twitter has already purchased rights to sporting events, namely Thursday Night NFL games. Will more social networks acquire rights?”

“It’s clear that they have the deep pockets to compete, look at how Netflix and Amazon are buying up digital movie and TV rights. But can social networks compete with the 24/7 storytelling and brand building that the likes of Sky Sports can provide to engage the audience outside of 'game time?"

And it seems like Twitter already have open dialogue with a number of governing bodies, broadcasters, and federations on how they cover major sporting events.

“We work with people across the sports industry especially across huge events, we’re working with UEFA on the Euros, the IOC on the Olympics – the broadcasters; BT Sport, Sky Sports, ITV on how they cover the sports, we have partnerships and we sit down and listen to them – what do you want to achieve using Twitter? We innovate together and that’s really special.”

What does the future hold for Twitter and how far can they go as a broadcaster?

“It’s a work in progress, the product is being built and we’re incredibly positive about it – it’s what we do because it’s live, we’re working with content providers to share their content further, better, wider.”

The large ‘audience’ that Twitter has – with over 200 million users – means that perhaps the there is a growing appeal for rights holders, federations and organisations to at least look into digital media as a broadcasting alternative, or to supplement their traditional broadcast media deals.


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