Twitter and ESPN (dis) are planning to announce a partnership that will allow the social network to tweet out video clips of major sports highlights and sell ads specifically around those clips, providing new revenue opportunities for Twitter and giving ESPN greater visibility for major sports events. The news was first reported in The Wall Street Journal, and will come as no surprise to anyone who’s followed Twitter’s increasing courtship of television networks and the video content they produce.
We wrote about Twitter’s collaboration with a startup called Snappy TV and Turner Broadcasting that allowed the NCAA to tweet out highlight clips from March Madness throughout the annual college basketball tournament, with the clips sponsored by AT&T and Coke Zero, and a Twitter spokesperson confirmed Monday that the ESPN clips will appear in a similar manner inside Twitter Cards. The report indicated that Twitter will be selling advertising specifically around the sports clips that are tweeted out.
The company announced major updates to its Cards technology in early April that allowed for more types of content to appear in the tweets and more app promotion for third-party apps cross-posting to Twitter. The key to Cards is that a user never has to leave Twitter to view the content the Cards contain — everything is viewable directly in stream, which encourages users to stay on Twitter’s website.
My colleague Mathew Ingram and I have written about Twitter’s transformation over the past year or so to become more of a media company, and Twitter’s partnerships with television, music and video outlets are numerous. There were rumors of deals with Viacom and NBC, a partnership with Nielson to measure user activity around television, the launch of the Twitter #music app and following music entertainment show.
For Twitter, all of this content could make tweets more engaging for users who become captive audience members participating in live events. But perhaps more importantly for the company, if it’s gearing up for the IPO everyone expects, video provides an excellent platform for advertising and big brand partnerships that could make Twitter a lot of money.