Twitter tests sports live-streams with Wimbledon tennis broadcasts

Wimbledon Roger Federer

In a first for sports live-streams on its platform, Twitter has begun real-time video broadcasts from the Wimbledon Tennis championships in the United Kingdom.

The streams can currently be viewed on a dedicated web address — in the vein of Twitter Moments, and the social network’s recent trial of 360-degree videos from the NBA Finals.

The feature gives us a preview of the format that could be used to live-stream major events on the platform. Following Twitter’s historic deal to broadcast a selection of NFL Thursday Night Football games as an exclusive social media partner, there has been much debate as to how the footage will be presented. Up until now, social networks have been relegated to our second screens during live events, but the onset of live-streaming on Twitter, and Facebook could change that.

The simple layout of the Wimbledon broadcast looks similar to the flagship Twitter service. On the desktop version, the video can be viewed in its own stand-alone feed, which occupies the left-hand side of the screen (and can be maximized to fit the entire screen). On the right is located a traditional Twitter timeline made up of curated tweets that relate to the tournament. At the top of the timeline is the compose tweet box, which comes preloaded with the #Wimbledon hashtag and its unique tennis ball emoji, allowing you to jump right into the conversation.

Twitter describes the Wimbledon footage as an “incomplete test experience,” which may explain why it hasn’t ramped up publicity for the feature. As an experiment it does come with some caveats. Firstly, it does not provide any live footage from matches being played in real-time. Instead, the feed is made up of broadcasts from ESPN’s “Live @ Wimbledon” segment, which it produces for the Wimbledon tennis club, and for its own subscribers. The clips include replays, interviews, and post-match analysis. A link to the official ESPN Twitter account can be seen on the feature’s website, below the live-stream itself.

Nonetheless, it is a promising venture that will appeal to sports fans on the social network. It could also end up being part of Twitter’s biggest gambit to resurrect its ailing platform with a focus on live-streaming. If this is how Twitter’s NFL streams will be presented, then roll on, September.