If Facebook is the YouTube of live video online, Twitter seems to have its eye on becoming the Hulu.
At its inaugural NewFronts presentation on Monday, Twitter debuted a slate of new live programs, including a pair of 24/7 live channels and several daily news shows. The programming builds on Twitter’s initial live slate from last year that spanned syndicated news broadcasts, live sports simulcasts and its first original live shows. The lineup could help to wash over Twitter’s failed bid to renew its NFL live deal and to buoy Twitter’s struggling advertising business. Video has become the company’s “single largest revenue-generating ad format,” according to the company’s latest quarterly earnings report, though the format’s rise has coincided with an overall ad revenue decline at Twitter.
Advertisers can buy pre- and mid-roll ads against the new shows and channels through Twitter’s Amplify program. Pre-roll ads longer than six seconds will be skippable, but mid-roll ads will not, according to a Twitter spokesperson.
Twitter will be sharing ad revenue: 70 percent of the money will go to the media companies producing the programs. A Twitter spokesperson declined to say if Twitter is paying the media companies for any of the programming beyond the revenue split.
The lineup announced on Monday falls into three content categories: news, sports and entertainment.
The news programming is highlighted by a new channel produced by Bloomberg News that will premiere in the fall and broadcast news coverage 24 hours a day, seven days a week, exclusively on Twitter. In addition to Bloomberg’s live channel, Twitter will air:
- a weekday morning news show from BuzzFeed called “MorningFeed.”
- a weekly tech show from Vox Media called “Circuit Breaker: The Verge’s Gadget Show.”
- an hour-long morning business news show from Cheddar called “Opening Bell.”
Cheddar’s “Opening Bell” already airs live on Facebook, and simulcasting it to Twitter could violate Facebook’s Live API policy that prohibits developers from building apps that companies can use to simulcast a live stream on Facebook and “other online streaming services,” like Twitter or YouTube. I’m waiting to hear back from spokespeople for Twitter and Cheddar about whether they’ve addressed this issue.
As with the news programming, the sports lineup stars a 24/7 channel. Called Stadium and produced by Silver Chalice, the channel will mix live broadcasts of mostly college and some professional games with highlight clips, re-airs of classic college and professional games and ESPN-style studio shows. Twitter will also add:
- a three-hour-long weekly baseball news show from MLB Advanced Media.
- an exclusive interview show from The Players’ Tribune called “#Verified” that will feature athletes answering fans’ questions (Twitter is still determining how regularly “#Verified” will air).
Additionally, Twitter has recruited more live sports to its platform to help fill the hole left by the loss of the NFL’s Thursday Night Football games. Twitter will air one WNBA regular season game each week throughout the 2019 season. And the PGA Tour will host a 360-degree live stream of the 17th hole during The Players Championship tournament that takes place later this month.
While Twitter isn’t yet premiering a 24/7 entertainment channel, it will air a live daily entertainment news show called “#WhatsHappening” from independent production company Propagate Content. Twitter is still determining whether the show will air on weekends and in which time zone(s) the broadcast will air in prime time.
Twitter will also broadcast some Live Nation concerts, starting with the Zac Brown Band’s performance in Atlanta on May 13. And IMG Fashion will stream several runway shows and also air programs that go behind the scenes of the various Fashion Weeks around the world.