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Twitter takes on GOOGLE, swallows wannabe YouTube firm

Buys user-generated vid platform Snappy TV

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It looks like Twitter is going head to head with YouTube with the acquisition of SnappyTV.

The video platform lets users edit and share clips from live TV broadcasts, among other things. It also gives Twitter new video opportunities for both organic user-derived sharing and from Twitter’s sponsored-content platform Amplify. SnappyTV already has deals in place with American mega broadcaster Fox, which are used for sponsored sports highlights.

Other partners include Nascar and the US Open, which use the platform to format live video for embedding in posts on Twitter and other web sources. The SnappyTV back-end will provide the uploader and Twitter the integrated analytics to measure social engagement and geographic and demographic patterns in viewing and sharing.

Twitter will be expecting a huge surge in video-related advertising for companies looking to exploit the social buzz element of video consumption through the Amplify service.

Networks of friends sharing a high-quality video with an unintrusive pre-roll could reach a larger and more engaged advertising audience than any original broadcast, especially if the shared footage is of a spectacular event and ends up "going viral".

This positions Twitter as a video aggregator or sorts, as well as being a social TV platform. If Twitter can act as a "best of" portal, the content owners will want to use it to drive viewers to their websites and services, at the same time as enjoying healthy ad revenues on the back of the Twitter snapshots.

Chances are it will avoid the pitfalls associated with YouTube, which eventually led to Google being seen as the evil empire as far as companies like Viacom are concerned. The latter launched a (failed) $1bn legal action to get its content off YouTube. Twitter wants to be the TV channel’s friend, rather than simply take advantage of consumers uploading content offering no benefit to the channel.

“Together, we’ve worked with the biggest content partners in the world to inject the best video content into Twitter’s real-time conversation, straight from the TV to your mobile device,” said Bajeet Singh, Twitter’s director of product management. “Twitter users have watched goals, slam-dunks, amazing shots and touch-downs – as well as red-carpet moments, award show performances, news clips and funny moments – right from a tweet in their timeline.”

Amplify is the main part of Twitter’s ambitions to become a popular mobile news channel attracting major outlets as well as individuals and in becoming the de facto second screen TV service – in which users tweet their reactions to content. A few significant content deals for the Amplify platform have been reached, most notably so far with BBC Global News, announced just over a week ago.

This allows the BBC to deliver in-Tweet news clips that can be linked with longer form content on conventional channels. The aim for Twitter is to build Amplify as a platform for synchronising clips with both TV programmes and sponsored content from brands, including advertising.

Amplify also has those deals we mentioned with the Fox network and Nascar, but also with Fuse, The Weather Channel, A&E, Bloomberg, the PGA Tour, NBA, NFL, Viacom, Clear Channel Media, Conde Nast, Discovery, Time Inc., Vevo, Warner Music, WWE, Vice and the MLB among others.

This network of content complements Twitter’s strategy for encouraging individuals to upload video based on its micro video app, Vine, which enables consumers to create and share six second videos.

This is currently the fastest-growing mobile app globally, with a 403 per cent gain in user numbers during the last six months, according to Statista, a market research portal. The blend of user-generated Vines, rights-holder-uploaded Amplify content and the sharing of other web video could position Twitter as a major video website.

Twitter has released figures that already support that claim, with product manager Michael Fleischman revealing that 32 million US TV viewers tweeted about TV programming in the last year, with 64 per cent of Twitter’s mobile users watching TV programmes with Twitter in hand.

This is a valuable market for advertisers to target, especially if the reactions are tweeting sponsored content with lucrative pre-roll ads. A SnappyTV blog post said “with Twitter, we will continue our commitment to maintaining an open platform for social broadcasting of live events, across a variety of digital platforms.

"Joining Twitter will allow us to provide an even better product and bring the platform to more content owners and event organisers throughout the world. We will be able to further our goal of empowering people to share the world’s best moments.”

Copyright © 2014, Faultline

Faultline is published by Rethink Research, a London-based publishing and consulting firm. This weekly newsletter is an assessment of the impact of the week's events in the world of digital media. Faultline is where media meets technology. Subscription details here.

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