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Twitter Pushes Live-Video Deals With MLB, NFL, Viacom, BuzzFeed, Live Nation, WNBA and More

Twitter is looking to dramatically ratchet up its video tonnage: The social service announced 14 new, renewed or expanded deals for live premium content with partners including Major League Baseball, the NFL, Viacom, the WNBA, BuzzFeed, Bloomberg Media, Live Nation, the PGA, Ben Silverman’s Propagate, and IMG Fashion.

The new deals and collaborations will add hundreds of hours of exclusive content to Twitter, including live sports, concerts, news and entertainment, according to the company.

Execs touted the pacts at Twitter’s first Digital Content NewFronts presentation Monday in New York. Twitter and Bloomberg Media were so excited about their new partnership that they let loose word of their plans to launch a 24-hour news channel ahead of their respective NewFronts events.

“We want to be the first place that anyone hears of anything going on that matters to them,” said Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey. “That’s our focus.”

Guests on hand at the evening event for marketers and agencies included NBA commissioner Adam Silver, ESPN analyst Jay Williams, TV producer Ben Silverman, NBA star Karl-Anthony Towns, NFL star A.J. Green, and singer-actress Audra McDonald (pictured above, playing a “did you tweet that” quiz game with BuzzFeed staffers Isaac Fitzgerald and Saeed Jones).

Twitter emphasized the immediacy of live video, and the ability of its platform to foster real-time conversation with audiences in one integrated experience. “Twitter is what’s happening, and what people are talking about right now,” said chief marketing officer Leslie Berland.

In the first quarter of 2017, Twitter streamed more than 800 hours of live video from content partners across more than 450 events, reaching 45 million unique viewers. COO Anthony Noto said the new partners join Twitter’s roster of more than 200 existing premium content providers.

Twitter’s highest-profile live event programming so far has been NFL’s “Thursday Night Football” last fall — and Twitter was beat out by Amazon for the 10-game package next season.

The company’s new original and live programming includes:

Sports

  • WNBA: Starting later this month, the women’s basketball league will live-stream a weekly regular-season game on Twitter (20 total per season) during the 2017, 2018 and 2019 seasons.
  • MLB Advanced Media: In addition to weekly live MLB games that stream on Twitter this season, the league will stream a new three-hour once-per-week whip-around program exclusively on Twitter. The show will feature live MLB game look-ins and highlights, delivering top moments and analyzing stories as they trend in real-time.
  • Stadium: A new, original 24-hour video network slated to launch on Twitter in the coming months that will combine exclusive live college sporting events with highlights, classic games, and daily live studio programming.
  • NFL: This fall Twitter will extend its partnership with the NFL, to offer live pregame video and on-demand highlights during key matchups.
  • The Players’ Tribune: The sports media company founded by Derek Jeter is launching “#Verified,” a live show that will let athletes connect directly with fans by answering questions and sharing their takes on topics on and off the field. The series is scheduled to feature regular interviews from top pros, including Karl-Anthony Towns, A.J. Green and Richard Sherman.
  • PGA Tour: On top of the current live-streaming deal between Twitter and PGA Tour Live (which features more than 70 hours of live competition coverage across 31 tournaments), the PGA Tour will live-stream 360-degree video of the iconic island 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass during The Players Championship (May 11-14) on Periscope and Twitter.

Entertainment

  • Viacom: Twitter announced a live-streaming deal with the media conglomerate for pre-show red carpet coverage and live event timelines for the MTV Movie and TV Awards (May 7); the BET Awards (June 25); and the MTV Video Music Awards (Aug 27)
  • Live Nation: Concert promoter will deliver select concerts and original content exclusively on Twitter. The concert series launches on Saturday, May 13, with a live stream of the Zac Brown Band in their hometown of Atlanta from Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre at Encore Park. Other upcoming shows will feature Train, Portugal. The Man, August Alsina and Marian Hill.
  • IMG Fashion: Will launch a live program in September 2017 consisting of exclusive runway shows and behind-the-scenes Fashion Week content for Twitter users, live from New York, Milan, Paris, London and elsewhere.
  • Propagate: Studio headed by Ben Silverman and Howard T. Owens will present “#WhatsHappening,” a live daily, entertainment-driven, primetime show covering pop culture, music, TV, celebrity tweets, and top-trending discussions. Launching in the fall, “#WhatsHappening” will be hosted by comedian Phoebe Robinson of podcast 2DopeQueens).

News

  • Bloomberg Media: Set to debut in the fall, the network will combine the editorial and news-gathering resources of Bloomberg with Twitter’s audience reach and tools.
  • BuzzFeed News: “MorningFeed” will be a new morning news and current-events show broadcast live on Twitter, geared around the latest in “fire Tweets.” Hosts will bring news and memes to audiences’ timelines from reporters in the field and special in-studio guests. Wendy’s has signed as sponsor for the BuzzFeed News show.
  • The Verge: Vox Media’s tech publication this fall is slated to premiere “Circuit Breaker: The Verge’s Gadget Show,” a weekly live program that will review and test out hot new consumer electronics.
  • Cheddar: The millennial-focused financial news startup will present the hour-long “Opening Bell” live daily at 9 a.m. ET from the New York Stock Exchange live on Twitter. The show expands Twitter’s deal with Cheddar for the “Closing Bell” show at 3 p.m. ET, which has aired on Twitter since last October.

Twitter held the event at the Cedar Lake venue in Manhattan’s West Chelsea neighborhood.

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