Twitter is shutting down its TV apps on Roku, Android TV and Xbox starting on May 24, the company announced this morning. The news of the apps’ closure comes at a time when Twitter is now trying to steer its users to its first-party mobile apps and its desktop website by killing off apps used by a minority of its user base – like the Twitter for Mac app it shut down earlier this year. And more recently, it has attempted to kill off popular third-party Mac apps with a series of unfriendly API changes.
It’s unclear why this has become Twitter’s agenda. While it can be a burden for a company to support a broader ecosystem of apps where some only have a niche audience, in some cases those “niche” users are also the most influential and heavy users. And arguably, anyone launching Twitter’s app on their TV must be a die-hard user – because who is really watching that much Twitter on their TV?
In terms of the TV apps’ shutdown, this is a somewhat abrupt strategy shift. The company had been steadily expanding its live streaming video content over the past year, and it saw its TV apps as a way to get that video in front of a television audience – and particularly cord cutters – who are looking to watch major news events, sports matches, and other entertainment.
The Twitter Roku app was one of the later TV apps to arrive, launching just a year ago, following the September 2016 launch of the Apple TV, Fire TV and Xbox One apps. At the time, the company touted the app as a way for people to “…watch live events and see what people are talking about, keeping them connected to what’s happening.”
It’s likely that none of Twitter’s TV apps have much traction. After all, Twitter didn’t have much in the terms of high-profile exclusive live video content. And on the TV, it has to compete for attention with top streaming services like Netflix and Hulu.
But these TV apps shutdowns aren’t tied to Twitter’s API changes, we’ve heard. Rather, Twitter has made the decision to kill off these apps as it works towards GDPR compliance. (Apparently, these apps were undeserving of time and attention on that front.) In addition, neither Xbox or Roku support a standard regularly supported video player, which made them more difficult to maintain. That also came into play with this decision.
Not all of Twitter’s TV apps are getting the cut, though.
Twitter for tvOS (Apple TV) and Twitter for Amazon Fire TV will continue to be available.