Did you watch the Raiders-Chiefs game on Twitter on Thursday night? Sure, it was available on TV and via other paid online venues. But, if you can’t get over-the-air TV, or don’t pay for online NFL games, Twitter got it to you – likely on your convenient smartphone – with a great picture, and for free.
Thank you, Twitter, for sponsoring some awesome content!
Twitter paid the NFL $10 million for the rights to show 10 games on its platform. The company doesn’t expect to generate much direct revenue from the offering, but looks to benefit indirectly by it helping to recruit and retain members to / in its service. It’s essentially a loss-leader to get and keep people in the door “shopping.”
Of course, sponsored “whatever” is a tool used to differentiate offerings and attract users throughout the economy. Over-the-air TV is itself an excellent example: The networks buy exclusive programming and then give it away free to viewers, attracting eyeballs for advertisers who then pay the networks for access to those viewers.
Twitter is competing in a complex space with an innovative take on how to grow its audience, working to make its mousetrap better and more profitable. U.S. ISPs would like to be similarly discriminatory in their approach to attracting and serving their customers, but the FCC’s Net Neutrality rules have imposed numerous obstacles to that perennially difficult task. Priority delivery and “fast lanes” are no-no’s for ISPs. Popular zero-rated offerings, too, have come under the glare of the FCC of late, with the agency demanding that providers “explain” how they don’t harm competitors. For this Commission, the goalposts have never been set in concrete, they being easily moved at the behest of Silicon Valley.
ISPs and their potential partners want to sponsor the content / data pouring over networks to give consumers what they want. Oh, and to make a profit, too. Weird how those two things often go together. Is that still legal? One hopes.
Arbitrary rules and ever-moving goalposts rig the game and, ultimately, harm consumers. The next FCC must allow ISPs to advance past the 20-yard line so they can make it to the end zone just like Twitter has.