LAST_UPDATESun, 22 Jul 2018 9am

Twitter Shares Surge 7% On Talk Of Apple TV Deal

Twitter is thinking visual, and investors agree: Shares of Twitter surged 7% Monday following a report the social media service is readying a version of its app for the Apple TV set-top box.

Twitter is looking to Apple TV to bolster its plans for live streaming sporting events, specifically Thursday night football games secured as part of a deal with the National Football League, reports The New York Times.

Announced in April, the deal with the NFL was considered a big win for Twitter. The company reportedly beat out Amazon, Facebook and Yahoo.

The deal allows Twitter to stream all 10 Thursday Night Football games during the upcoming NFL season. The games will be free to watch, and viewers won't need to authenticate a cable subscription to gain access.

A deal with Apple could open the door to a much wider audience, says S&P Global Market Intelligence analyst Scott Kessler. "Such a partnership would make sense for both companies, as Twitter looks for more distribution and engagement and Apple looks for more differentiated content," says Kessler.

The report sent Twitter shares to $20.87 per share.

Both Apple and Twitter declined comment.

Investors continue to place pressure on Twitter to show stronger gains in both revenue and its user base. During its fiscal second quarter, Twitter reported 313 million average monthly active users, up only 3% year-over-year.

To help draw more users, Twitter is making a push toward streaming more sports content. Last month, Twitter reached a deal with the NBA for two weekly broadcasts, including a pre-game show.

Twitter users got a taste of the live experience in July when it rolled out a stream of ESPN coverage from the Wimbledon tennis tournament. The left side of the screen featured a live video player, while a column along the right side displayed a stream of tweets related to the event.

The emphasis on live streaming is a calculated bet to reverse Twitter's flagging fortunes and flat user growth to help establish it as an Internet destination.

Twitter faces withering assaults from competitors on all flanks. Facebook and Google are squeezing it for advertising dollars while image-heavy apps such as Snapchat and Instagram are drawing younger consumers.

A presence on Apple TV — coupled with live-streaming deals with the NFL, NBA, Major League Baseball, the NHL and others — could make the micro-blogging service more appealing to a younger demographic and, possibly, advertisers, analysts say.

"To spike user growth, Twitter needs to go where it is strong, like live events," says Holger Mueller, principal analyst at Constellation Research. "Expanding to another Apple platform would be huge."

-USA Today