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Twitter Live Streams Trump Inauguration, Gets Record Views

Zacks Equity Research

Per media reports, Twitter Inc.’s TWTR live streaming of President Donald Trump’s inauguration saw record viewership. Twitter’s unique viewership scaled up to 6.82 million viewers, marginally above 6.8 million recorded during the live streaming of “Election Night” last year. 

Viewership peaked at 377,000 viewers as Trump took to the podium to take his oath, add media reports. About 12 million tweets were sent pertaining to the event. Twitter had collaborated with PBS NewsHour for the live streaming of the inauguration.

Analysts observe that digital rating considers viewers irrespective of the duration they watch compared with TV ratings, which are measured on average viewership per minute. As a result, digital ratings tend to “overestimate” audience count. 

To battle sluggish user growth, Twitter has been focusing on “live”. This is because online video content generates relatively more revenues than its text-based counterparts. Given the ad revenue potential, all social media companies right from Twitter to Facebook FB to Snapchat are pumping huge resources to increase live video viewing on their platform. Facebook has inked partnerships with media houses and celebrities to churn out content for its “Live” service.

Twitter, Inc. Price

Twitter, Inc. Price | Twitter, Inc. Quote

Twitter isn’t far away. CEO Jack Dorsey has been focused on “live” to boost Twitter’s performances. Last year, Twitter signed various live streaming deals focusing on live sports. Dorsey had commented that online video budgets are over $9 billion-$10 billion alone in the U.S and streaming deals will fuel a “long-term shift away from desktop video to premium mobile environments and we believe Twitter is well positioned to benefit from that shift.” 

Twitter inked streaming deals with CBSN to stream both Republican and Democratic conventions. It also brought on board Bloomberg and Cheddar. Twitter will be live streaming market coverage as well as air several Bloomberg shows. It live streamed its first NFL match with an average viewership of 243,000. It also struck deals with NBA and MLB.

However, “live” is yet to move the needle for Twitter. Though a massively popular social network, it continues to struggle with profitability issues as well as user growth. It continues to be in trouble with just over 313 million users and deteriorating revenues. Plus, the exodus of top level management continues to plague the company. In fact, the independent status of Twitter was questioned with numerous buyout speculations doing the rounds last year.

Twitter had a dismal show on the trading front as well. Over the past one year, shares dropped 2.88% compared with 17.03% gain registered by the Zacks categorized Internet Services industry.

Year to date, there hasn’t been much improvement. Shares have gained just 1.35% compared with 6.05% gain recorded by the industry.

To achieve that ever elusive turnaround, Dorsey and company are now streamlining operations and cutting down on costs. Twitter recently sold its developer product Fabric to Alphabet Inc. GOOGL in sync with its focus on re-building its core businesses and lowering expenses of its non-core businesses. Notably, Twitter has trimmed 9% of its workforce worldwide in the recent quarters.

So will the initiatives help Twitter perform better in 2017? It remains a wait and see story.

At present, Twitter has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). A better-ranked stock in the wider technology space is Jabil Circuit Inc. JBL, which sports a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

In the trailing four quarters, Jabil, has generated a positive average earnings surprise of 45.61%.

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