Comcast Launches ‘See It’ Feature to Spur TV Watching, First with Twitter

Functionality part of pact representing deepest integration to date between TV, social media

Comcast has made Twitter its first partner for “See It,” a new feature aiming to close the loop between TV programming and the social conversation that takes place around it online.

“See It” will allow U.S. TV watchers to record and watch programming directly off digital platforms, first strictly with the conglomerate’s own NBC Universal programming via tweets beginning in November. Here are the official announcements of the deal from Twitter and Comcast, respectively.

While Twitter is the inaugural partner, Comcast intends to make the “See It” button as ubiquitous as a Facebook “like” on any screen where TV content is being discussed. The company expects to build a roster of partnerships that could include other social media giants like Facebook, entertainment-centric partners like IMDB and even rival pay-TV distributors like DirecTV and brands at content companies outside its ownership like Disney and News Corp.

Comcast is in discussions with a range of partners about implementation of “See It,” but could not provide specifics.

“See It” will allow Comcast subs who enter log-in information to either watch live TV or access VOD programming on their set-top box or watch it directly online, regardless of their mobile device. In addition, “See It” could be used to set a DVR to record future programming or set a programming reminder. Comcast-owned movie-ticketing service, Fandango, will also be tapped via Twitter, to enable buying theater tickets.

While only subscribers of Comcast, the largest cable operator in the U.S., who use its Xfinity platform will be able to access the full range of “See It” features, even viewers who don’t subscribe to any multichannel service will be entitled to some content, though exactly what hasn’t been determined.

The Comcast-NBCU deal represents the most in-depth integration to date between a media company and Twitter, which likely timed the announcement to build investor confidence in its ad-revenue-generating abilities ahead of its upcoming initial public offering.

“See It” should build on Twitter’s built-in capability to serve as a virtual water cooler spreading word of what TV show to watch at any given time. At launch next month, the button will should work for at least 30 series across NBCU, from NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” to USA drama series “Suits.” The 2014 Olympics in Sochi, to which NBCU has TV rights, will also be covered.

“See It” is part of a broader deal between Comcast and Twitter that will see NBCU will become the latest to partner with Twitter on its Amplify initiative, which delivers real-time video clips of programming in progress that helps drive awareness to the shows and drive ad revenue. In addition, the partnership is expected to fold more social-TV components into Comcast’s upcoming X1 platform.

While the Amplify component of the deal will encompass the full range of NBCU networks, the first iteration will be devoted to NBC Sports’ Premiere League soccer highlights, sponsored by General Electric. Other nets expected to utilize Amplify are USA Network for the syndication run of “Modern Family” and E! for a range of programming leading into next year.

The innovation comes as Twitter engages in a heated battle with Facebook to establish primacy via partnerships with the TV networks as the go-to destination for social TV. Facebook, however, has no equivalent service, though did some limited experimentation last year as a distribution platform for long-form programming by enabling its user base to watch library movies on demand from studios including Warner Bros.

Comcast has been talking for some time about social media being a new form of electronic programming guide that could anchor the TV experience with real-time recommendations instead of the traditional scrolling programming grid.

SEE ALSO: Twittervision: How Video + Social Media Will Change Twitter (and Entertainment)

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