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Twitter Goes Bigger On Video With 16 New Streaming Partnerships

May 2, 2017, 12:01 AM UTC
Vanity Fair New Establishment Summit - Day 2
Twitter Co-Founder and Chairman and Square CEO Jack Dorsey speaks onstage during "From 7 Dwarves to 140 Characters" at the Vanity Fair New Establishment Summit at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts on October 9, 2014 in San Francisco, California.
Photograph by Kimberly White — Getty Images for Vanity Fair

Twitter may have lost its deal to stream Thursday night NFL games live, but that isn’t stopping the social network from doubling down on more video.

The company unveiled 16 streaming video partnerships Monday night, led by BuzzFeed, Vox Media, Viacom, the WNBA, and the PGA. The total also included a 24-hour streaming news partnership with Bloomberg Media that Twitter announced earlier in the day.

All together, the deals show Twitter’s increasing focus on video as it grapples with slow growth with its core service. In the most recent quarter, Twitter had more than 800 hours of live content streamed to over 45 million unique users.

For most of the past few years, Twitter’s stock price has struggled amid various acquisition rumors that never came to fruition and user growth that still pales in comparison to that of Facebook. But last week, its shares jumped after the company announced its largest quarterly user increase since 2015 while revenue continues to lag.

Twitter is hoping that its growing list of video partnerships with high-profile brands—many of which bring exclusive streaming of live events or exclusive original content that will be found only on Twitter—can help it jumpstart growth by gaining a foothold in video. Still, it must convince users who typically use the service for a running stream of short snippets of information to visit for longer form video—from daily programming to live events—in an crowded field.

Twitter announced new partnerships with BuzzFeed is for a morning news and current events show, called MorningFeed. (The company said that fast-food chain Wendy’s has signed on as a sponsor for the BuzzFeed morning show.) Twitter is also partnering with Vox Media’s technology website The Verge on a weekly live streaming program reviewing new tech gadgets, called Circuit Breaker.

And, Cheddar, the millennial-focused financial news startup launched by former BuzzFeed president Jon Steinberg, will add an hour-long streaming show called Opening Bell that will air daily at 9 a.m. ET from the New York Stock Exchange to complement Cheddar’s Closing Bell show that has aired on Twitter everyday at 3 p.m. ET since last fall.

Twitter also announced that an exclusive new partnership with Viacom that will include live streams of award shows such as the MTV Movie & TV Awards as well as the pop culture network’s annual Video Music Awards. A new partnership with Live Nation will allow the social network to live-stream exclusive concerts and original content, staring with a May 13 performance by Grammy-winning country music group the Zac Brown Band. Twitter will also have access to live content from exclusive Fashion Week runway shows through a partnership with talent agency IMG’s fashion arm, while the A+E Networks-backed production company Propagate Content will launch a live daily primetime show focused on pop culture.

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Meanwhile, Twitter is adding new sports content in the wake of losing a bidding war to Amazon last month for rights to stream the NFL’s Thursday night games. Twitter still has a partnership with the NFL that includes live daily programming with NFL news, highlights, and analysis.

Twitter, which signed a deal last year to live-stream NHL and MLB games, said on Monday that it will add a weekly three-hour MLB program that will include live game look-ins and highlights. The social network, which also already streams live content in partnership with the NBA, will now begin live-streaming weekly regular season WNBA games (20 total each season) over the next three seasons. The company also announced an expanded partnership with the PGA Tour that will include more than 70 hours of live competition from 31 professional golf tournaments. And, Twitter will launch a new live show called #Verified in partnership with The Players’ Tribune, the digital startup from former baseball star Derek Jeter, as well as a new 24-hour, seven-days-a-week network for live college sports events and highlights, called Stadium.

Twitter made the announcements as part of The NewFronts, an annual series of events and presentations from digital media companies featuring pitches aimed at both content makers and advertisers. The social network enlisted a wide range of special guests to help add some star power to Twitter’s unveiling. Joining Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and COO Anthony Noto onstage in New York was Adam Silver, commissioner of the NBA, along with Minnesota Timberwolves star and NBA Rookie of the Year (2016) Karl Anthony Towns. NFL star A.J. Green was also in attendance, along with Hollywood producer and former NBC Entertainment co-chair Ben Silverman and Tony Award-winning actress Audra McDonald.