Industry News

Will Twitter's New In-Line Video Post Big Gains for TV?

Twitter began rolling out new, faster video playback this week — a feature which may present some rather substantial opportunities for television programmers and advertisers. 

Juliana J. Bolden

Twitter’s new one-click, in-line video preview feature for iPhone and Android users spurs 3 times more viewers to watch clips posted to the social channel, studies show.

The social net unveiled this new platform on Wednesday night, in concert with the National Basketball Association, posting Knicks vs. Pacers highlights directly to the league's Twitter channel while the game was still in play.

Though Vine (the 6-second video app owned by Twitter) already works this way — i.e., allowing people to preview its motion picture content in their news feeds as easily as they see photos and news articles — other video clips posted to Twitter currently take several clicks to see. 

Rectifying this obvious deterrent gives Twitter’s 241 million users — who primarily connect with Twitter on mobile devices — a more instant video viewing experience. 

Since social media in general presents significant tune-in driving opportunities for television content, broadcasters potentially stand to gain huge boosts from an easier-to-watch, more instant, real-time Twitter video.

This platform upgrade arrives just as a mini-trailer trend keeps picking up steam across Hollywood, with such companies as HBO dropping previews of Game of Thrones on the program's Vine channel and forthcoming Twentieth Century Fox/Marvel feature X-Men: Days of Future Past posting Instagram teasers this year. 

Because the company will oversee this video function directly from its own servers, Twitter will ideally be able to manage playback speed and overall user experience more closely — and, therefore, maximize value for advertiser as well as broadcast partners.

“With our own content infrastructure we can be smarter about how the video loads,” said Kevin Weil, the company’s vice president of product.

Weil also said Twitter is preparing for the enormous stress that increased video streaming can place on that infrastructure and is working to minimize risk: “We know we have to build for massive scale.”  

The company recently endured a milestone system “failure” of sorts when Oscar Awards host Ellen DeGeneres crashed its system with the most widely retweeted selfie in history (at broadcast time) from her Samsung Galaxy Note 3.   

In addition to the NBA, the company plans to offer in-line video capability to roughly 60 other businesses via its Amplify video advertising service over the next few weeks. 

Melissa Rosenthal Brenner, senior vice president of marketing for the NBA, told the New York Times that the chance for social media users to see faster playback clips very attractive, particularly while games are in progress, and her organization is looking to drive more fans to the television program.

Compelling them to watch the broadcast is very important, Brenner said, and the NBA will be watching this test case closely. 

It is the most substantial change to tweet-viewing since the auto-preview for photos debuted in October 2013 and literally made Twitter a more visual medium overnight.