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Twitter Boasts 30 New or Renewed Video Pacts, Details ESPN, NBCUniversal Live Programming

Twitter is ready to pump even more premium video into your tweet-stream from a range of new and existing partners — with an emphasis on live-streamed content.

The company announced 30-some content deals at its 2018 Digital Content NewFronts event Monday in New York City. Those include pacts with NBCUniversal, Disney/ESPN, Viacom, Vice Media and Will Packer Media. The partnerships span entertainment, news, lifestyle, music, gaming and sports, including expansions of existing deals with Live Nation Entertainment, Major League Baseball and Major League Soccer.

Twitter’s video views have nearly doubled in the past year, according to the company, although it declined to provide specific numbers. Last week, Twitter said video now accounts for more than half of its ad revenue and was again the fastest-growing ad format in the first quarter of 2018.

Company execs played up Twitter’s focus on live, this-is-happening-now immediacy in touting the new content slate. “Twitter is the only place where conversation is tied to video and the biggest live moments,” said Matt Derella, Twitter global VP of revenue and content partnerships. “That’s our superpower.” In its first-ever NewFronts last year, Twitter announced 16 content partnerships — and, according to the company, it’s been able to sell advertising and/or sponsorships for all of those.

The wide-ranging pact with Disney/ESPN for advertising and live programming, announced ahead of the NewFronts presentation, excited Twitter investors — who sent the company’s shares up 4.5% Monday on news of the deal.

ESPN is planning to launch five shows and programming initiatives for Twitter, two of which were detailed at Twitter’s NewFronts session. Launch dates for the ESPN content on Twitter haven’t been set yet.

First is “SportsCenter Live,” which will feature talent from ESPN’s flagship TV program and other reporters who will deliver breaking news coverage in Twitter Moments and on the new @SCLive account. “SportsCenter Live” content also will be distributed across ESPN’s existing handles, including @SportsCenter, which has 35.8 million followers.

In addition, ESPN’s “Fantasy Focus Live” will live-stream the daily podcast hosted by Matthew Berry, Field Yates, Stephania Bell and Daniel Dopp. The show provides player previews, injury reports, game overviews and strategies, as well as featured guests and interviews, focused on NFL football. The show will engage Twitter users by taking questions from fans and incorporating their opinions.

ESPN has worked with Twitter since 2007, but this represents its biggest investment in original content for the platform to date, said Travis Howe, ESPN’s senior VP of platform ad sales strategy and global operations. “We’ve gained a material amount of insights over the last 10 years,” he said, calling Twitter “the best platform to talk about anything live, and especially breaking news.”

NBCU is another significant new video-content partner for Twitter. Under that pact, NBCU will distribute a variety of live video and clips from across its portfolio — including NBC, NBC News, MSNBC, CNBC, Telemundo, the “Today” show, and E! News — on Twitter.

The new partnerships with Disney/ESPN, NBCU and others are the result of Twitter analyzing what users want on the platform, according to Kay Madati, Twitter’s global head of content partnerships.

For example, looking at #BlackTwitter trends, Twitter inked partnerships with BET and Will Packer, the producer behind movie hits including “Girls Trip,” “Ride Along,” and “Straight Outta Compton.”

Also, based on the Twitter conversation around empowered women and the #HereWeAre hashtag, the company is bringing new content developed on those themes from HuffPost, A+E Networks’ History, Vox Media and BuzzFeed News to the platform. Twitter ran its first-ever ad during the Oscars this year, a 60-second spot promoting #HereWeAre.

“In the past year, we’ve really expanded our efforts with the best publishers and content creators in the world to bring a slate of programming that reflects those diverse content interests,” Madati said.

Twitter held its NewFronts presentation at the Terminal 5 music venue in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood of Manhattan.

Here’s a rundown of other new original and live programming deals Twitter announced and highlighted:

Entertainment and Lifestyle

  • Live Nation Concert Series: After kicking off the live-concert series in May 2017, Live Nation and Twitter will add more live concert broadcasts, including access to 20-plus hours of live streams of Live Nation’s marquee festivals including BottleRock and Bonnaroo.
  • Hearst Magazines Digital Media: Two new shows — Seventeen’s “IRL,” a live news show about pop culture, fashion, gossip and more; and Delish “Food Day,” celebrating the best food holidays in the U.S., including national donut day and pizza day.
  • Viacom: In addition to bringing back exclusive red carpet coverage of MTV’s and BET’s awards shows and events, Viacom is launching new show formats (which it detailed Monday at its own NewFronts presentation) including Comedy Central’s The Creators Program; the weekly “BET Breaks”; and “MTV News” daily reports on trending topics.
  • Will Packer Media’s “Power Star Live”: Inspired by #BlackTwitter, the weekly 30-minute live show from executive producer Will Packer will stream from the Atlanta University Center in Atlanta, highlighting content posted to Twitter while attributing and highlighting diverse voices.
  • Ellen Digital Studios’ “CELEBrate,” featuring Ellen DeGeneres’ celebrity friends who will each have amazing news delivered by their own idols in a personalized message.

News

  • BuzzFeed News: Twitter renewed the digital-media company’s “AM to DM by BuzzFeed News” live daily morning show hosted by Saeed Jones and Isaac Fitzgerald through the end of 2018, after it premiered last September.
  • Vice News: Will debut “The New Space Race,” a live, interactive show about the latest quest to explore space.
  • Pattern: From Byron Allen’s Entertainment Studios, which now owns the Weather Channel, Pattern aims to deliver science and weather storytelling directly to Twitter users.

Women’s Voices: #HereWeAre

  • Oath’s HuffPost: “Crash The Party,” a new original series to run exclusively on Twitter, promises a comprehensive, nonpartisan look at what it’s like to be a woman running for office in 2018. The show will follow more than 50 different female candidates across the U.S.
  • A+E Networks’ History: The cable network will produce original content that focuses on the historical context behind major events, including a special look at the history behind the current women’s movement for equality.
  • Vox Media’s “Divided States of Women”: The weekly live show on Twitter (@DSoWomen), is hosted by millennial activist and producer Liz Plank (@feministabulous). The program will showcase guest experts and contributors, special event coverage, and breaking news about trending issues women care about.
  • BuzzFeed News’ “AM to DM” will expand to include a new segment featuring interviews between high-profile female activists and women rising up to follow in their footsteps.

Sports

  • Formula 1: A live post-race show will be presented exclusively on Twitter, featuring highlights, analysis, and interviews. Hosted by broadcaster Will Buxton alongside other F1 experts, it’s set to begin with the Spanish Grand Prix on May 13 and continuing for a further nine rounds of the 2018 Championship.
  • MLB: In addition to the recently announced weekly live stream MLB game and highlights package, the league will live-stream a show on Twitter around the MLB All-Star Game and Postseason.
  • MLS: The 2018 MLS Homegrown Game, an annual showcase of top, young MLS academy talent, will be live-streamed on Twitter as part of the 2018 MLS All-Star festivities. In March, Twitter announced a three-year partnership with the league for at least 24 live-streamed matches per season.
  • Bleacher Report: Turner’s digital sports division will launch “House of Highlights Live,” featuring athletes and celebrities joining Omar Raja, founder of “House of Highlights.”
  • The Players’ Tribune “#Verified”: Returning for a second season, the show will feature some of the top draft prospects in both the NFL and NBA sharing their insights and reactions, driven by fan-submitted questions.
  • Barstool Sports’ “Barstool Live”: An 8-episode series exclusively on Twitter featuring live, original content from sporting events across the U.S. Each 30-minute episode will feature hosts Pat McAfee, Dan “Big Cat” Katz and PFT Commenter along with a rotating roster of Barstool’s talent and special guests.

Gaming

  • Call of Duty World League: Highlights and Championship Sunday from each of the remaining events in the esports league’s season schedule, which features “Call of Duty” teams from around the world competing for a $4.2 million prize pool. Broadcast includes highlights and finals from CWL Anaheim Open (June 15-17), CWL Pro League – Stage 2 Playoffs (July 27-29), and the 2018 Call of Duty Championship (Aug. 15-19).
  • The Game Awards: The video-game and esports industry’s biggest awards show will broadcast live on Twitter in December 2018 for the third year in a row.
  • CBS Interactive’s GameSpot: Set to stream daily live video from E3 and San Diego Comic-Con International, featuring first looks at upcoming games, movies and TV shows and other coverage.
  • ESL Intel Extreme Masters: Twitter renewed its pact with ESL for coverage of its flagship event series with more than 700 hours of live-streaming programming and highlight clips in 2018.
  • IGN: Video-game news outlet is set to stream more than 30 hours from this year’s E3 over six days, including every major platform and publisher press event.

In addition, Twitter announced new branded-content initiatives. That includes a lineup of pilots from Twitter’s Niche creator network — for which the company is aiming to sell sponsorships — and a “live brand studio” service designed to help brands maximize creation and distribution of their own live-content efforts.

Original pilots from creators in Twitter’s Niche network include: “Born and Bred” with Josh Peck; “Wolf It Down” with Tyler Florence; “Voodoo Dating” with Matt Cutshall; “City Tours” with Sara Hopkins; “Bar Stars” with Aaron Chewning; “Paint Away” with Miel Bredouw; “Style Series” with Brittany Sky; and “SWIFF” with Wes “Wuz Good” Armstrong.

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