For Twitter, it's full stream ahead

The social network expands its livestreaming portfolio with 12 new partnerships in news, sports and music.

Terry Collins Staff Reporter, CNET News
Terry writes about social networking giants and legal issues in Silicon Valley for CNET News. He joined CNET News from the Associated Press, where he spent the six years covering major breaking news in the San Francisco Bay Area. Before the AP, Terry worked at the Star Tribune in Minneapolis and the Kansas City Star. Terry's a native of Chicago.
Terry Collins
3 min read

Twitter wants to be your livestreaming destination point.

The social network is attempting to attract more music lovers, sports fans and news junkies by adding a dozen new partnerships to its already growing streaming portfolio. It announced the new deals at its first-ever NewFronts presentation Monday in New York. (Ironically, Twitter didn't stream the news live, perhaps more for business reasons than technical.)


Twitter is trying to be a livestreaming juggernaut.

Jaap Arriens, NurPhoto via Getty Images

Among the most notable partnerships is one with concert promoter Live Nation to air a series of concerts starting with the Grammy-winning Zac Brown Band on May 13. For sports lovers, Twitter is showing 20 WNBA regular season games for the next three seasons starting on May 14. And there's #Verified, an upcoming live interactive program featuring baseball great Derek Jeter's venture, The Players' Tribune, in which popular athletes answer the most burning questions from Twitter.

These deals come after Twitter announced earlier Monday it's partnering with Bloomberg on a 24-hour news stream that spawned a hashtag, #thenewnews. The platform is apparently taking a deep plunge into the livestreaming pool, about a month after losing the rights to Thursday Night Football this season to Amazon for a reported $50 million.

"Adding these 12 new live deals is a testament to the success of our 'only-on-Twitter experience,' combining high-quality streaming video with our only-on-Twitter conversation," Chief Operating Officer Anthony Noto said in a statement. Twitter's stock rose as much as 6 percent Monday following the announcement.

Other Twitter streaming programs include a weekly 3-hour show produced by Major League Baseball Advanced Media featuring live look-ins from games and highlights. There's MorningFeed, a live morning news and current events show broadcast by BuzzFeed featuring "fire Tweets." Also, #WhatsHappening will be a live daily entertainment primetime chat-fest fueled by the latest in pop culture, celebrity tweets and trending topics.

With the moves, Twitter is trying to gain a bigger piece of this year's estimated $13 billion in social media advertising, according to eMarketer. The platform has stiff competition though, as Facebook, Snapchat and YouTube, with their billions of followers, all want their share, too.

During last week's better-than-expected earnings call, Twitter execs said the company is reaching for a younger and more mobile audience. More than half of its logged-in audience is under the age of 25. Currently, Twitter has more than 40 livestream partnerships in tow and has already aired more than 800 hours of livestreaming content this year.

One expert believes Twitter's new deals heralds it becoming more of a media company than just a social platform.

"This is a natural evolution happening faster than anyone may have expected," said Mike Kelley, president of Grabyo, a livestreaming content provider. "Twitter is becoming very aggressive in this space because of the competition. It wants to remain relevant not only with its users but also with its investors on Wall Street."

eMarketer video analyst Paul Verna, who attended Monday's event, said Twitter is apparently playing to its strengths with content that's very mobile-driven.

"Twitter is carving out a niche that's inherent to the platform," he said. "Twitter knows it's a focal point around live events and it's now using that as a springboard for video programming instead of being the new Netflix or ESPN."

First published May 1, 5:18 p.m. PT.
Update, 5:30 p.m. PT: Adds comment from analyst and background information.

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