|More channels. IMHO, this is going to be a difficult sell.|
Twitter still thinks it’s a TV platform — and here are its dozen new shows
Last year: NFL. This year: Bloomberg, the WNBA, Live Nation and our friends at The Verge.
by Peter Kafka
May 1, 2017, 8:00pm EDT
Mike Bloomberg and Jack Dorsey talk up their new video joint venture to Bloomberg Tech’s Emily Chang. Jamie Watts/Bloomberg
Yesterday, Twitter announced it was building a 24/7 streaming video service with Bloomberg. Today, Twitter rolled out even more video plans, teasing live programs from nearly a dozen partners, including Live Nation, BuzzFeed and the WNBA.
Our Vox Media colleagues are in the mix, too: The Verge’s Nilay Patel will host a live weekly gadget show. Go Nilay!
A few thoughts:
Twitter’s news is the opening frame of the “newfronts” — two weeks of digital video pitches for advertisers, modeled on conventional TV’s “upfronts.” Hulu, for instance, has its big unveil on Wednesday; YouTube is on Thursday. Do bear in mind that if past performance indicates future results, some of the stuff you’ll hear about over the next several days won’t materialize. These are often pitches, not promises.
Assuming all of the stuff Twitter talked about today does show up, it seems like a reasonable bet for the company and its partners (again — one of whom is Vox Media, which owns this site) to make. Every digital publisher wants to distribute its video as widely as possible and hopefully figure out how to make money from its video. And Twitter wants as much video as it can get. Since the highest-value video — the stuff that appears on TV — is likely to remain on TV or TV-like platforms for some time, Twitter needs to do deals with digital publishers (Go Nilay!) or get people who have traditional TV deals (the NBA) to give them stuff that doesn’t run on TV.
As Facebook and others have proven, if you have a lot of people gathered on your platform, you can get them to watch video, even if they didn’t come there to watch video. So Twitter should get some kind of audience for the programming they’re rolling out today. It’s fair to ask, though, whether Twitter’s audience really wants to see video, especially since they have many other places to watch video. Bear in mind that it’s relatively easy to make a compelling text or image-based message; making compelling video is much much harder.0
The NFL makes the most compelling video in the world, and last year Twitter had 10 NFL games, which they offered for free to anyone who asked — no login required. The streams looked nice and worked well, but the audience was ... meh. Twitter averaged 266,000 viewers for each of its Thursday night games; CBS and NBC, which showed the same games to TV viewers, averaged 15.8 million.I wasn’t going to list all of Twitter’s new programming, but my editor Dan Frommer thinks I should. He’s right! Why not? So here’s the text, directly from Twitter’s press release:
WNBA: Starting later this month, for the first time the WNBA will live stream a weekly regular-season game on Twitter (20 total per season) during the 2017, 2018 and 2019 seasons. Twitter will deliver live action of the best in women's basketball and the best in fan conversation about each game all on one screen.
MLBAM: In addition to weekly live MLB games that stream on Twitter this season, a new 3-hour once weekly MLB program will live stream exclusively on Twitter. The whip-around show will feature live MLB game look-ins and highlights, and tap into the power of Twitter by delivering those top moments and discussing MLB storylines as they're trending in real-time. Stay tuned for more information regarding timing and talent.
STADIUM: A new, original, fully programmed, 24/7 linear experience will stream live on Twitter in the coming months. This network will integrate exclusive live collegiate sporting events, extensive highlights, classic games, and daily live studio programming. Combining the production quality and editorial values of TV with the speed, accessibility, conversation and interactivity of Twitter, STADIUM infuses real-time, fan sentiment and feedback into every sports conversation, covering the topics that matter most to sports fans as they happen.
The Players’ Tribune: #Verified, a modern forum for athletes to connect directly with fans, will be a live show, exclusively on Twitter, featuring athletes answering fan questions and sharing their insight, reactions and timely takes on important topics on and off the field. Driven by Twitter and fan-submitted questions, the series will debut in the coming months and will feature regular interviews from some of the most popular players across sports, including Karl-Anthony Towns, A.J. Green and Richard Sherman.
PGA Tour: Building upon the current live stream relationship between Twitter and PGA TOUR LIVE that features more than 70 hours of live competition coverage across 31 tournaments, the PGA TOUR will live stream 360 video of the iconic island 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass during THE PLAYERS Championship (from May 11-14) on Periscope and Twitter.
Bloomberg Media: Bloomberg will debut the first-ever 24/7 breaking news network that will be global, live, social and exclusively on Twitter. The new live streaming news network, to launch this fall, will combine the vast global editorial and news gathering capabilities of Bloomberg with the digital power, conversation and speed of Twitter.
The Verge: Coming this fall, Circuit Breaker: The Verge's Gadget Show is a weekly live program that will review and experiment with the hottest gadgets everyone wants right now, and the weirdest ones we'll want tomorrow, hosted by The Verge's Nilay Patel.
BuzzFeed News: MorningFeed, a brand new morning news and current events show broadcast live on Twitter by BuzzFeed, will reach an audience that wakes up hungry for the latest in “fire Tweets.” Hosts will bring news and memes to the audience where they are - on their timeline - from reporters in the field to special guests on set.
Cheddar: Cheddar’s hour-long Opening Bell will stream live daily at 9am ET from the New York Stock Exchange, beginning today. This expands on Cheddar’s successful Closing Bell show at 3pm ET, which has aired on Twitter since last October.
Live Nation: Live Nation will deliver select Live Nation concerts and original content exclusively on Twitter. The concert series launches on Saturday, May 13th with a live stream of the three-time GRAMMY-winning multi-platinum Zac Brown Band. The event kicks-off their highly anticipated new album ‘WELCOME HOME’ (Elektra/Atlantic) and their 2017 tour in their hometown of Atlanta on a sold-out opening weekend at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre at Encore Park. Grammy Award-winning San Francisco rock band Train, Portugal. The Man, August Alsina and Marian Hill will also live stream one of their upcoming shows. Additional artists will be announced.
IMG Fashion: IMG Fashion will bring its premium designer and brand relationships to a live content program consisting of exclusive runway shows and behind-the-scenes Fashion Week content for Twitter users, live, from New York, Milan, Paris, London and beyond in September 2017. IMG Fashion will also work closely with Twitter to leverage opportunities exclusive to Twitter users globally.
Propagate: #WhatsHappening is a new live daily, entertainment-driven, primetime show on everything in the world that embraces Twitter’s unique conversation. See every side of pop culture, music, binge-worthy television, celebrity Tweets, and top trending discussions as they unfold around the globe.