Image: Jeffrey Phelps/Associated Press
By Sam Laird2014-09-04 15:00:33 UTC

Good news, football fans: Twitter is making it easier than ever to follow the NFL this season.

Likely spurred by the success it saw with a similar initiative around the World Cup this summer, the company is launching special timelines for following both the NFL itself and specific games this season.

The new feature will allow users to follow tweets from their networks as well as from players, coaches, other fans, media and celebrities in real time.

If you search the #NFL hashtag, for example, you’ll see a tailor-made stream, as mentioned above and pictured below. The usual results from a hashtag search will be replaced with tweets from high-profile users and a slew of other relevant posts; the idea is to surface more valuable content while you watch the games.


The new #NFL timeline will run 24/7 during the season, but Twitter’s new feature will really come in handy when it comes to the game-specific timelines.

You can reach those by entering “#SeahawksvsPackers” or “#SEAvsGB” in the search field, for example, or by clicking over from the main #NFL timeline during Thursday night’s season opening game in Seattle. You’ll be able to view tweets from not only your network, but also NFL players, coaches, and national reporters.

Entering that same hashtag formula of “nickname vs. nickname” or “city code vs. city code” will work for any NFL game this season.

The potential benefits of the game-specific timeline are threefold: Following a specific game you can’t watch live; using it as a second-screen companion for a game you’re watching already; or using it to track one game while you watch another.

Tweets don’t need to contain a specific hashtag to show up in the new #NFL or game-specific timelines; algorithms will identify tweets from relevant users that contain keywords specific to pro football or particular games.

If this all sounds a bit familiar, you’re not crazy. Twitter launched similar features ahead of this summer’s World Cup in Brazil, which proved to be a boon for the company; it spawned 672 million tweets over the monthlong tournament and helped power Twitter to a quarterly earnings report that exceeded expectations in user growth and profit.

The World Cup’s global spectacle of unmatched intensity isn’t comparable to the grind of a five-month NFL season. But Twitter seems wise to implement at least one of its World Cup tools for America’s most popular sports league.

The special timelines will be available starting on Thursday via web and its iOS app, with an Android update coming soon.

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