As part of an increasing focus on video, Twitter has said it is looking for deals that will allow it to stream different kinds of content around the clock. On Monday, the company announced its first partner in that effort: Financial news giant Bloomberg.
This isn't the first time the two companies have joined forces on streaming video. Twitter also partnered with Bloomberg to broadcast live coverage of the U.S. presidential debates in September, which followed an earlier deal to stream several of Bloomberg's shows. But Monday's arrangement goes much deeper.
In a nutshell, the partnership means Bloomberg will provide 24 hours a day of free streaming-video content via Twitter, seven days a week. Twitter was also expected to announce several other deals for streaming video at its "New Front" meetings with advertisers on Monday.
Bloomberg's Twitter channel "is going to be focused on the most important news for an intelligent audience around the globe and it’s going to be broader in focus than our existing network," Bloomberg Media CEO Justin Smith told the Wall Street Journal in advance of the official announcement.
Smith's comment gets at one of the most interesting things about the news: Namely, that Twitter won't be merely re-broadcasting existing Bloomberg content from its various shows.
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As more than one media watcher pointed out when the story broke, Bloomberg already streams its content in a number of places, including on YouTube and pretty much every other over-the-top alternative. It can afford to do so because it doesn't have to rely on traditional cable distribution contracts, since it makes billions of dollars from the financial-news terminals it sells to bankers and stock traders.
What Twitter will be getting from Bloomberg under the new deal, however, is original content (it's not clear exactly how much) which will be created by the media giant's various bureaus and reporters. Smith said the channel will begin streaming in the fall.
The other interesting aspect of the new channel is what else it will include. According to the Journal, in addition to custom content from Bloomberg, the new service will have "a curated and verified mix of video posted on Twitter by the social-media platform’s users."
According to a news release from both companies, Bloomberg staff will be doing the curating and verification of the videos that come from Twitter users. The feature plays into some of the work that Twitter has been trying to do with features like Moments and an expanded "Discover" tab, both of which are aimed at finding important content to show to users who might be pressed for time or only visit Twitter occasionally.
News Corp.'s Storyful unit also curates and verifies user-generated video from Twitter and other networks, but it does so as a paid service for media clients.
Smith said in a prepared statement that "the powerful combination of Bloomberg’s high-quality journalism and data-backed objectivity with Twitter’s global immediacy, interactivity and reach will create the world's fastest and most credible modern news source."
When it comes to streaming video about business and technology, there is a startup that already provides this kind of content via Twitter (among other outlets). Cheddar TV was launched by former BuzzFeed president Jon Steinberg last year as a kind of CNBC for millennials.
Having a multi-billion-dollar competitor like Bloomberg go into competition with you might fill some with trepidation, but Steinberg said that he sees the new partnership as a good thing, because it will bring more quality streaming-video content to Twitter, and that will increase the demand from both users and advertisers.
Bloomberg and Twitter declined to share any details about the financial arrangement behind their partnership. The new channel will be supported by advertising, according to the announcement, but it's not clear how the revenue from those ads will be shared between the two.
For Twitter, such a partnership would likely be a positive thing even if no money changed hands. The company has been pushing its status as a home for live video with deals like the one that saw it stream NFL Thursday night games last year (a deal Amazon recently took over), and having a heavyweight like Bloomberg involved will likely help. Twitter's shares jumped about 5% on the news in mid-day trading on Monday.
One problem that Twitter will need to solve is how to let users know there is 24/7 streaming video available, apart from promoting the Bloomberg account in the usual ways. One possibility is to add a "live video" tab to the app and/or the website, as Facebook recently did.
The announcement also sparked speculation in some quarters about whether the partnership might lead to a deeper relationship between the two companies—in other words, an acquisition of Twitter by Bloomberg.
There are some obvious benefits that might be achieved by such a combination, including the addition of social features for Bloomberg, which has been behind the curve on such things for some time. But it's not clear that they would be worth the $15 billion or more the financial-media giant would likely have to pay to acquire Twitter outright.