May 14, 2013
ESPN and Twitter Inc. are announcing a major expansion of their collaboration to post sports-related videos on the short-messaging service-part of a growing wave of tie-ups as TV networks and Twitter hunt for new advertising revenue.
ESPN, which is majority-owned by Walt Disney Co., plans to show video-highlight clips on Twitter of major sports events in the coming year, including from soccer matches leading up to the World Cup, college football and the X Games extreme-sports tournaments. People can watch the video clips on Twitter's website and mobile apps shortly after the action happens on TV. The sports network plans to sell ads that will run inside the video clips, and marketing sponsors will commit to buying from Twitter a minimum value of "promoted"-or paid-Twitter posts to circulate their pitches.
Twitter executives have been talking with many TV companies, including Comcast Corp.'s NBCUniversal and CBS Corp., about more ways to collaborate on online video that would be shown inside Twitter, with each side selling ads to accompany the videos, according to people familiar with the discussions. ESPN will feature its Twitter partnership at an event Tuesday for advertisers. The announcement continues a partnership announced last year that has included sports' fans Twitter posts appearing on ESPN telecasts and a recent experiment with college football Web-video highlights on Twitter. The closer ties spotlight the symbiotic business needs of Twitter and the television industry. For the TV networks, Twitter tie-ins provide new ways to make money beyond 30-second TV commercials likely to be skipped or ignored. Entertainment executives talk about "engagement"-buzz and social-media comments around a show-nearly as often as they mention traditional TV ratings. "We want to be able to push ESPN's...content wherever sports fans are," said Eric Johnson, ESPN's executive vice president of multimedia sales. "Twitter is a great opportunity for us to do that."
While Twitter is best known as a way to share 140-character text messages, the service now allows companies to post longer story summaries, photos and videos that can pop up without jumping away from Twitter.com or Twitter apps. The company has fixated on television to press one of its major advantages over Facebook Inc. - its status as a hub for digital conversations about breaking news and other live events, especially on television. Nielsen says 40% of people who use a smartphone in the U.S. visit a social network while watching television. Twitter wants to ensure it is making money from all the posts about TV broadcasts, and from the ways TV networks use Twitter to promote their shows.
Twitter and the TV networks are going after the same prize: a slice of the roughly $350 billion annual spending on world-wide TV advertising, according to Nielsen. Some research shows social media is boosting viewership of live television, and the TV networks and Twitter are eager to capitalize. "There is certainly a lot of interest from broadcasters," said Glenn Brown, Twitter's head of promoted content and sponsorships. "Video is very popular on the Web; it's what our TV partners are good at doing, and it's an area that ad partners are most interested in."
As Twitter discusses similar arrangements with other entertainment companies, it is telling TV networks that video clips on Twitter can pad viewership by convincing people to flip on the TV set when they might not otherwise do so, or by rewarding fans who are already tuning in by giving them exclusive video clips. In the trial run that started last December, ESPN showed highlights of college football bowl games on Twitter, and Ford Motor Co. bought ads from Twitter and ESPN to promote the clips. ESPN says the video highlights were seen more than seven million times. "When it comes to TV, where Twitter is particularly strong is grabbing the conversation, or facilitating the conversation," said Curt Hecht, chief global revenue officer for the Weather Co., which is owned by NBCUniversal and private-equity firms Blackstone Group LP and Bain Capital.
The company, which owns the Weather Channel, said in April its Twitter partnership will allow users to see clips on Twitter ranging from local forecasts to videos people shoot of extreme weather events. Home Depot Inc. will pay to show how-to videos tailored to local weather, so a forecast of a Texas heat wave could be accompanied by a video on how to build a patio. The Fox network also said Monday it will show Web-video clips inside of Twitter, and marketers can buy video ads to promote the clips. Fox network is owned by News Corp which also publishes The Wall Street Journal. It is unclear if the interests of Twitter and TV companies will always align. Networks could decide to post video on Twitter on their own, without cutting Twitter into ad sales. Twitter also may increasingly be treading on the TV networks' turf by vying to be a meeting point for people seeking news and entertainment. Twitter executives play down the potential for tension. "We get along well with the TV industry, and they get along well with us," Twitter's Mr. Brown said. Wall Street Journal
New York City Comptroller John Liu has won some influential backers in his bid to shake up Cablevision's board. Shareholder advisory firms ISS and Glass Lewis threw their support yesterday behind Liu's bid to oust five directors at the company's annual shareholder meeting next week. Liu oversees the city's pension funds, which own about 532,000 Class A Cablevision shares. Thomas Reifenheiser, John Ryan and Vincent Tese failed to win majority support from shareholders in two of the last three elections but remain on the board. Zachary Carter and Leonard Towe should go for "their role in re-nominating directors Reifenheiser, Ryan and Tese," ISS said. A Cablevision spokesman said the directors "have provided valuable independent insight and counsel which has served the interests of Class A shareholders well." New York Post
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