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Twitter vp and head of content Kay Madati on Tuesday welcomed Sky’s director of business development Emma Lloyd, Viacom Digital Studio’s president Kelly Day and A+E Networks’ president of international and digital Sean Cohan to the MIPCOM stage for a wide-ranging discussion on how social media can support linear.
Madati was careful to note that Twitter will buck the trend that has seen Facebook launch Watch and Instagram open its app-based IGTV, Twitter is not looking to get into the content game. Instead, they’ve inked 150 partnerships with content providers such as ITV, Formula 1, Wimbledon, London Fashion Week and other, mostly live, events.
Lloyd said that while its in-house VR studio Jaunt announced Monday it is now pivoting to AR, the company will continue to invest in VR content. Sky sees growth opportunities in global entertainment formats, and Lloyd said Sky’s ad-driven VOD (AVOD) is growing following the launch of Pluto on the NowTV platform in the U.K. on Oct. 1.
Pluto will remain a premium product that is attracting high-end advertisers, she said. “In a digital world, players like Pluto have a really strong role to play on the global stage,” added Lloyd.
Sky is using Twitter as a monetized complimentary platform with programming that runs alongside the live broadcast, especially for sports, with ads that are developed for the clips. The British royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle — “not the small one we had last Friday,” Lloyd was careful to note, referencing Princess Eugenie’s nuptials – was a massive hit for Sky with over 12 million watching the vows via Twitter.
The live Twitter tools drive engagement with the linear channel and to subscribe to Sky’s NowTV OTT platform. “It works incredibly well for us and for advertisers and sponsors,” said Lloyd. “Engagement is an important metric for us but increasingly the revenue piece is there.”
Day said companies must program to the platform. “It does not work in this environment to take a piece of content and just try to spread it everywhere,” she said. Viacom’s investment with Twitter resulted in four daily news shows that have launched on Twitter within the last month, including two MTV News-branded shows, BET Breaks and Comedy Central’s Extra Damn Day, on Oct. 8.
“One of the most blessed things about the social platforms is that we are not bound to a clock,” said Day, noting the Twitter-based shows vary in length depending on that day’s news. Topics are cut up into one-minute segments and sprinkled throughout the day to drive viewership. Answering the ever-present monetization question, Day noted that the Comedy Central series launched in partnership with McDonald’s.
“It’s less about structuring deals around exclusivity and more around the fact that we really believe consumers do interact with these platforms in a very unique, bespoke kind of way,” she said. “It is important as programmers we really think about how the consumer is interacting with the platform and how the consumer is interacting with the content and develop unique experiences that are well-suited to it.”
Twitter’s regional shift has increased engagement with clients on a global and local level. “The numbers scale and the deals are coming together,” he said of the company’s growth strategy and monetization plan. “We run advertising and sponsorship around all of this content, we work out what the deal structure is between us and the partner and then you can take it to market. … We are not here to compete with linear or broadcasting companies.”
A+E’s Cohan said his company’s Twitter strategy is shifting away from traditional engagement, but creating shortform content for brands such as History. It has been creating videos to add historical context to hot-button political issues that interest Twitter’s news junkies. “Twitter is fairly unique in its approach to help us monetize,” he said. “Linear won’t disappear.”
Lloyd added that linear will continue to take on more digital and social aspects while digital products will seek out more brand partnerships — lines will continue to blur between content. She added that Sky is reexamining the company’s social strategy, and will “pull back from some platforms” that conflict, though she wouldn’t name names. Presumably, Twitter isn’t one of them.
Day doubled down on owning IP, saying that while content discovery is no longer a concern, the biggest problem is getting lost in the shuffle: “Your brand needs to continue to really matter to audiences, [and] anytime someone else is in between you and your audience there is a risk.”
Kay concluded: “The narrative is about the disruptors, and Twitter is put on that side of the fence, vs. the disrupted, which is these media companies here. I absolutely, wholeheartedly believe these two worlds will come together and form new business models and new content production facilities.”
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