Twitter and Television: Robin Sloan Speaks with NewTeeVee

Robin Sloan of the media-partnerships team at Twitter spoke with NewTeeVee about the marriage of big TV events and Tweets. Highlights:

For a lot of big TV events, we provide strategy and support from afar. But for a few select events every year, we go into the trenches with the production team. The Video Music Awards and President Barack Obama’s town hall are two recent examples. We mainly do this to learn: What do big live events look like down on the ground? What problems are producers facing with their Twitter integrations? What are they seeing in the Tweets that gets them excited? What’s getting the audience excited?

What gets us really excited, though, is when (networks) go an extra step and start to transform Tweets into TV content. So this can mean MTV visualizing the crazy conversation around the VMAs; it can mean ESPN highlighting pro athlete Tweets on SportsCenter; or it can mean Oxygen throwing “social viewing parties” and tossing funny Tweets up on the screen, live, as a show airs.

I’d say the scale of TV is more of a challenge in terms of content than in terms of code. Even when everything is running perfectly — and increasingly, it is — big televised events become almost a victim of their own success. If you did a search for “VMAs” during the VMAs, the good news for MTV is that there were literally millions of tweets. The bad news for users is that it was way too much to keep up with. I think this is actually a really interesting challenge; it’s one we’re thinking a lot about, and, of course, encouraging our media partners to think about, too.