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Twitter launches apps to stream video on TV

Twitter
Damien Meyer | AFP | Getty Images

Twitter introduced new live streaming video apps for Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV and Xbox One on Wednesday — as it makes a big push for its live video strategy, the centerpiece of which is the NFL games, which begin streaming Thursday night.

The apps will be free, won't require users to create a Twitter account log in and will feature all the live streaming video available on Twitter.

That means consumers with those boxes can download the Twitter app to find curated live video content, without a TV subscription. In addition to the 10 NFL games, the app will feature content from MLB Advanced Media, the NBA, Pac-12 Networks and other partners, as well as curated content from Periscope and Vine. Twitter's Apple TV app will have a unique feature: Side-by-side screens for live video as well as Tweeted video clips.

Twitter shares moved higher on the news Wednesday morning, with investors looking for hope that the company's focus on live video will help jump-start user and advertising growth. This after disappointing results and concerns about the company's long-term potential have dragged down shares 32 percent over the past year.

These apps are a notable departure from everything Twitter has been known for. This reimagining of the company as a source for live video content — designed to be viewed not on a mobile phone but on a TV screen — is the company's biggest change since it launched its Moments feature last year. And this is arguably an even bigger change to the fundamental idea of what Twitter could be, as it pretty fundamentally changes how a user experiences the platform.

It's worth noting that this is hardly the only way consumers will be able to stream Thursday NFL games. CBS, in addition to producing the Thursday night broadcast for TV, will stream the game on its CBS app and CBS.com, and Verizon is offering mobile streaming through the NFL Mobile app. Here Twitter is under pressure to show that the experience it's offering is better and different. And it's a key moment for Twitter to fix what's been plaguing its growth — the fact that the service can be confusing to people who aren't entrenched in its language of retweets, and unappealing to those who don't want to sift through uncurated content.

With questions swirling about what the potential is for Twitter to remain an independent, public company, the success of this video strategy — starting with the NFL game tomorrow night — will determine what happens next.