Why Video Streaming Could Save Twitter

Why Video Streaming Could Save Twitter

Author: Joel Comm / Source: Fortune Twitter’s (twtr, +1.14%) recent deal with Live Nation (lyv, +8.24%), allowing it to exclusively broadc

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Twitter’s (twtr, +1.14%) recent deal with Live Nation (lyv, +8.24%), allowing it to exclusively broadcast live streams of concerts, including those of the Zac Brown Band, Train, and Marian Hill, shows the importance that the company now places on live video content in addition to its traditional text output.

The deal is unique in that despite losing out to Amazon (amzn, -0.36%) for the right to broadcast live NFL Thursday Night Football, the company says that it still has some 200 premium live video partnerships. It gets to show events as prestigious as the MTV Awards and fashion weeks in New York, Paris, Milan, and London.

So what’s going on? Why is a platform best known for the shortest form of content possible expanding into video content that could last for hours?

Twitter has always been a strange idea. The 140-character limit was dictated by the requirements of SMS messaging, but the platform quickly outgrew those restrictions. There’s no technical reason at all now that tweets should be so short. But any attempt to expand those limits is always met with resistance. Part of what makes Twitter unique is the need for brevity, and while there are ways around those restrictions—through reply threads and chunks of text turned into images—the only change to the limits that Twitter has successfully managed to introduce is the exclusion of @names from the character count.

Except for one other change, which is the nature of the content itself, Twitter started with nothing but short bursts of text. Even the ability to add images was added by TwitPic, a third party. Twitter’s purchase of Periscope, a live video app, for $86 million in 2015,…

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