Twitter to launch 8 new pilot series supported by branded in-stream video sponsorships

Twitter is going all in on video at NewFronts this year, announcing more than 30 video content deals with a number of media organizations, including NBCUniversal, Ellen Digital Studios, ESPN, Viacom, MLB, and multiple gaming companies.

The social media platform is also developing eight new pilot series via Niche, Twitter’s creator network, and pairing them with brands that will run in-stream video sponsorships during the shows.

“These comprehensive video content offerings will consist of scripted original series that are innovative, high quality, and brand-safe,” says Twitter.

The eight pilots are listed as follows:

  • Born and Bred with Josh Peck
  • Wolf It Down with Tyler Florence
  • Voodoo Dating with Matt Cutshall
  • City Tours with Sara Hopkins
  • Bar Stars with Aaron Chewning
  • Paint Away with Miel Bredouw
  • Style Series with Brittany Sky
  • SWIFF with Wes “Wuz Good” Armstrong

In addition to the new content opportunities being offered up, Twitter is also launching Live Brand Studios — a service designed to help brands make the most of their live video content.

“Twitter’s full-service team will work with brands to determine the best content to showcase, develop a media plan that targets the right audience, provide dedicated technical support, tools to share show clips, real-time analytics, and more,” says Twitter in the announcement covering its NewFronts event. No details were given around how Twitter plans to work with brands, or the costs involved.

The Walt Disney Company also released a statement prior to Twitter’s NewFronts presentation, confirming its deal with the social platform to produce live content and advertising opportunities around Disney’s ESPN programming.

“Participants from across the company will have the opportunity to create experiences unique to Twitter that will extend their brands in meaningful ways,” says Justin Connolly, an executive VP for Disney and ESPN Media Networks, “This includes compelling live content across our entire portfolio that can reach and appeal to all types of audiences at scale on their platform.”

According to Disney, the two companies will announce live shows currently in development during NewFronts.

Twitter says video views on the platform have nearly doubled during the past year. Last week, the company reported more than half of its Q1 2018 ad revenue came from video, and that video ads were its fastest growing ad format during the quarter.

Twitter announces new video partnerships with NBCUniversal and ESPN

Twitter is hosting its Digital Content NewFronts tonight, where it’s unveiling 30 renewals and new content deals — the company says that’s nearly twice as many as it announced last year.

Those include partnerships with the big players in media — starting with NBCUniversal, which will be sharing live video and clips from properties including NBC News, MSNBC, CNBC and Telemundo.

Twitter also announced some of the shows it will be airing as part of the ESPN deal announced earlier today: SportsCenter Live (a Twitter version of the network’s flagship) and Fantasy Focus Live (a live stream of the fantasy sports podcast).

Plus, the company said it’s expanding its existing partnership with Viacom with shows like Comedy Central’s Creator’s Room, BET Breaks and MTV News.

During the NewFronts event, Twitter’s head of video Kayvon Beykpour said daily video views on the platform have nearly doubled in the past year. And Kay Madati (pictured above), the company’s head of content partnerships, described the company as “the ultimate mobile platform where video and conversation share the same screen.”

As Twitter continues to invest in video content, it’s been emphasizing its advantage in live video, a theme that continued in this year’s announcement.

“Twitter is the only place where conversation is tied to video and the biggest live moments, giving brands the unique ability to connect with leaned in consumers who are shaping culture,” said Twitter Global VP of Revenue and Content Partnerships Matthew Derella in a statement. “That’s our superpower.”

During the event, Derella also (implicitly) contrasted Twitter with other digital platforms that have struggled with questions about transparency and whether ads are running in an appropriate environment. Tonight, he said marketers could say goodbye to unsafe brand environments and a lack of transparency: “And we say hello to you being in control of where your video aligns … we say hello to a higher measure of transparency, we say hello to new premium inventory and a break from the same old choices.”

On top of all the new content, Twitter is also announcing new ad programs. There are Creator Originals, a set of scripted series from influencers who will be paired up with sponsored brands. (The program is powered by Niche, the influencer marketing startup that Twitter acquired a few years ago.) And there’s a new Live Brand Studio — as the name suggests, it’s a team that works with marketers to create live video.

AM to DM

Here are some other highlights from the content announcements:

  • CELEBrate, a series where people get heartwarming messages from their idols from Ellen Digital Studios.
  • Delish Food Day and IRL from Hearst Magazines Digital Media.
  • Power Star Live, which is “inspired by the cultural phenomenon of Black Twitter” and live streamed from the Atlanta University Center, from Will Packer Media.
  • BuzzFeed News is renewing AM to DM until the end of 2018.
  • Vice News is launching a new series called The New Space Race.
  • Pattern, a new brand focused on weather- and science-related news.
  • #HereWeAre programming from the Huffington Post (which, like TechCrunch, is owned by Verizon/Oath), History, Vox and BuzzFeed News that highlights women around the world.
  • The Call of Duty World League will air highlights and Championship Sunday for the rest of the season.