This morning, Twitter announced it would be joining the 2017 Digital Content Newfronts. It also announced two new content deals — a deal with Deutsche Telekom to live stream the Depeche Mode concert and a new show called “NCAA March Madness Now” with Turner Sports, NCAA and CBS Sports streaming exclusively on Twitter. The 30-minute live format will follow the NCAA championships with Twitter conversation integrated available for users regardless of whether logged into Twitter or not.
In addition to today’s news, for those who have been paying attention to the Twitter’s last few announcements — tied to video, live events and simulcasted shows — it’s becoming more evident that live video is core to the future of the business as revenues tied to advertising against video inventory continue to climb.
Hence, the decision to join the Newfronts schedule this year.
“We have made major investments in video over the past few years, and being able to present the breadth, depth and quality of that content at the Newfronts is the ultimate culmination of those efforts,” said Matthew Derella, VP of Global Revenue & Operations adding that Twitter is “ investing further in the video viewing experience, content development and collaborations, and video solutions for advertisers…”
With over 600 hours streamed in the last quarter of 2016 alone, Twitter’s value expands beyond the borders of the U.S. where streaming partners saw over 33% of unique viewership in international territories. In total, that programming also grabbed more than 31 million unique viewers, according to Twitter.
But, as many of the competing businesses have learned over the years, to drive competitive edge, streaming strategy needs to encompass a combination of original and licensed programming formats.
So what will that content mix look like for Twitter? And how is the platform structuring deals?
At present, Twitter isn’t entering into the original production and development space. The company is functioning more like a traditional distributor, locking up deals based on streaming rights and leveraging pre-roll and mid-roll media buys. Twitter CFO Anthony Noto (pictured) is leading the deal making.
Much of those deals flow through Twitter’s Amplify program which accounts for a rev-share with the partners, according to a Twitter spokesperson, and in cases where programs are simulcast, Twitter and the network each sell ads against the format.
According to a Twitter spokesperson, formats that have historically worked for the platform have been live and simulcasted shows similar to those its done with NFL, Buzzfeed and Mashable.
Twitter, then, enters into the competitive sector with live streaming-focused players like Facebook Live, YouTube Live, and Twitch, which have each been courting premium publishers and traditional network television formats.
At its first Newfront, VideoInk is told that deals and product offerings announced will include original, exclusive-to-Twitter content as well as partnerships with News, Entertainment, Sports programmers and individual creators, both in live and simulcasted formats. Twitter is also set to announce video ad products that make advertisers feel safe and snuggy about potentially fraud-driven numbers and brand safety.
For a coming out party, Twitter sure has its work cut out, especially considering the company’s current M&A position, but we’ll all be along for the ride to see if the Newfronts investment pays off.