Last year: NFL. This year: Bloomberg, the WNBA, Live Nation and our friends at The Verge.
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.
- 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.
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