Twitter tools change the game for TV broadcasters

By: | Published: February 29, 2016 12:27 AM

In recent times, TV channels have been using Twitter's suite of products including Twitter Native Video, Twitter Amplify, Twitter Challenger app...

In recent times, TV channels have been using Twitter’s suite of products including Twitter Native Video, Twitter Amplify, Twitter Challenger app, Vine, Periscope and SnappyTV to boost viewer engagement and enrich the Twitter+TV experience, providing a second-screen feel through visual live tweeting.

Broadcasters have identified the potential and are forming a loop by engaging viewers both online and offline. In order to retain a viewer’s attention during commercial breaks, they take the conversations online with polls and spoiler alerts. “TV channels are hungry to do more. We are graduating to a slightly more evolved market and are seeing the approach change from a marketing based one to a more content oriented one,” says Viral Jani, head – TV partnerships, Twitter India.

But the crucial question that clients are asking is that out of the million followers that the channel has on its Twitter page, how many are actually coming to watch the show? “The biggest challenge that we face is while the followers are engaging with the content on the page, how much tune-in is it generating?” questions Suveer Bajaj, co-founder, FoxyMoron.

It would be safe to say that Twitter is a complementary tool for broadcasters to engage with their audience, drive conversation about programming and increase tune-in. But when it comes to advertising on Twitter, a lot of broadcasters are opting for influencer marketing due to the active presence of celebrities who are offering a particular number of followers, helping form opinions and drive conversations.

Moreover, with 4G networks operating at 3G and 2G speed, the user experience suffers. Another challenge is the reality that there is no credible platform measuring the engagement on Twitter and how it co-relates to the viewership pattern on TV.

Dolly Jha, executive director at Nielsen India believes that in India, Twitter is too small an entity vis-à-vis the population with access to internet. “So it might take some time before we see a synergy between Twitter and television content.” There is a need for measurement as well, but it depends on when advertisers think it is the right time to pay for that kind of measurement.

But that has not deterred broadcasters. In fact, the recently concluded ninth season of Bigg Boss on Colors emerged as the most popular TV show on Twitter in 2015. Talking facts, the show generated over 5.7 million tweets during the season by the users, over 168 million impressions generated organically and it outdid the previous season by 70% in terms of tweet volume. Jani adds that videos are emerging as a big plus, and are also seeing a 400% growth in native video views in India.

The sports genre is also seeing innovations with Twitter Mirror being used at the recently held WWE event in India; the first season of the Pro Kabaddi League (PKL) introduced Twitter Kabaddi fan clubs and trump cards; and at the recent IPL auctions, SnappyTV was used to showcase the bidding process of the most sought after players.

The ICC Cricket World Cup last year saw 1.4 billion tweets during the matches, showcasing the power of how things happen in real time. Similarly, with the IPL, there were 375 million impressions during the match windows.

In India, cricket clearly draws the most attention and most conversation. Other sports like kabaddi too are growing.

Between the 2014 and 2015 season of PKL, Twitter saw around 250% growth in the opening weekend conversations.

However, Twitter is more important to news as it directly loops into the conversations in the country. “In fact, most of the videos on the platform come from our news partners,” says Raheel Khursheed, head, news, politics and government at Twitter India. “We are still a breaking news platform but our partners see us as allies and not competitors.”

A new trend emerging in this genre is Twitter Town Halls, with Aaj Tak being the first news channel to turn it into a full-fledged show on TV. It works, because the show serves as premium content to the channel allowing it to reach larger audiences. It features celebrities and opinion leaders responding to the queries of Twitter followers.
Experts state that beyond direct engagement, in the near future advertisers can look to Twitter TV metrics as a part of the media planning and buying process to identify shows with engaged audiences.

Going forward, it will be imperative for both the mediums to ride on each other’s strengths to power their respective business interests.

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