Twitter Plans Daily Show From Ben Silverman, 24-Hour Sports Channel
The social network unveiled a slate that included programming deals with the WNBA, BuzzFeed News and Live Nation.
Twitter on Monday unveiled a broad slate of original programming deals designed to help turn the social network into a hub for live television.
The company has struck deals with producer Ben Silverman, WNBA, Derek Jeter's The Players' Tribune, BuzzFeed News and Live Nation, all designed to bring a schedule of weekly and daily programming to the Twitter feed.
"For 11 years, people have been engaging in conversations on Twitter about live events and shows on TV," Twitter COO Anthony Noto remarked onstage at the company's first NewFronts presentation in New York, explaining that now Twitter wants to provide the content, too.
The more than a dozen programming deals represent a wide swath of content, from sports to news to entertainment.
Silverman, through his new company Propagate, will work with Twitter to create a daily live show, #WhatsHappening, that will focus on pop culture and entertainment news and moments. The series will be hosted by Phoebe Robinson, the comedian known for her work as the co-host of podcast "Two Dope Queens."
#WhatsHappening builds on a growing entertainment slate that also includes live concerts from Live Nation. The concert series kicks off May 13 with Zac Brown Band. Train and Portugal. The Man will also have their concerts live-streamed. And Twitter will work with IMG Fashion on a program that will showcase exclusive runway shows and behind-the-scenes of Fashion Week.
The company is also beefing up its sports programming on the heels of its deal with the NFL to live-stream Thursday Night Football last season. Twitter has expanded its deal with the NFL — which sold its TNF package to Amazon this year — to include daily programming from Sunday to Thursday during the season. The collaboration includes live Periscopes before kickoff and VOD highlights during marquee matchups.
Twitter has also agreed to live-stream a weekly, regular-season WNBA game for the next three seasons, and has expanded its relationship with MLB, announcing a three-hour weekly show that will provide game highlights and some live gameplay created in partnership with tech arm MLB Advanced Media. In addition to its weekly content, it is also planning a collegiate sports channel, Stadium, that will stream live 24/7.
A live show with the Players' Tribune is also in the works. #Verified, which will be driven by user-submitted questions on Twitter, will give athletes like Karl-Anthony Towns, A.J. Green and Richard Sherman the opportunity to connect with their fans.
In the business category, Twitter is launching a slate that includes a weekly gadget show with The Verge called Circuit Breaker, and a morning show with BuzzFeed called MorningFeed, in addition to the 24/7 Bloomberg Media channel that The Wall Street Journal first reported about on Monday. Further, Twitter will expand its partnership with Cheddar to include a new show from the New York Stock Exchange, Opening Bell.
Twitter's first NewFronts appearance comes at a pivotal moment for the company, which since the return of CEO Jack Dorsey has been in the process of reinventing itself as a home for breaking news and live video. It appears to be helping the company's user growth. In the first quarter, Twitter grew its user base by 9 million, but it simultaneously reported revenue losses.
At the end of the company's presentation on Monday evening, Dorsey took the stage to explain that the company's programming strategy is all about making Twitter the go-to place for its users each day. He explained: "We want to be the first place that anyone hears of anything that matters to them. That is our focus, and that is what we will work so hard to deliver."