Twitter expands TV push as BBC America announces video partnership

By Cory Bergman 

While the nation was riveted on the Boston bombings manhunt, BBC America announced in a tweet that it had inked a deal with Twitter to offer the “first in-tweet branded video synced to an entertainment TV series.” Twitter has yet to elaborate, but the announcement follows a report this week that the social network is courting major media companies for partnerships that would “let Twitter stream videos on its site and split the resulting ad revenue with the networks.”

We’ve already seen this in action during March Madness. Turner Broadcasting, using SnappyTV’s clip-and-share service, tweeted video clips in real-time along with the action, featuring pre-roll ads tied to on-air sponsorships. It looks like BBC America’s announcement takes this same approach and applies it to an entertainment show, tweeting highlights from the show and/or extra video clips that tie to the broadcast. The network didn’t say what shows will participate, but it mentioned Doctor Who and Top Gear as possibilities.

A question in all of this is why media companies would give up a share of video revenue from their own advertisers against their own content. AllThingsD’s Peter Kafka has a good theory:

“Their argument, according to people who have heard the pitch, is that Twitter can figure out how to display the networks’ content in front of Twitter users who might not know about their channels/shows, but might be inclined to like them if they did.”

So it’s not just about revenue, but driving ratings. This all ties to Twitter’s recent acquisition of Bluefin Labs — which has the data chops to power this kind of targeting — and Twitter’s new announcement that it has the ability to target ads against keywords, filtering out negative sentiment. And Twitter will not only measure the engagement on Twitter, but with the upcoming Nielsen Twitter rating, it will be able correlate that engagement with on-air ratings.

That’s shaping to be the TV business model: encourage viewers to self-identify that they’re watching a show by tweeting about it, use that data to help reach the most valuable Twitter users with content that’s sponsored by TV advertisers, and then attempt to tie all that activity back to a net increase in ratings.

This will be a topic of discussion at next week’s Lost Remote Show in NYC featuring an all-star lineup of social TV execs. Hope you can join us there!