- Twitter has locked in the first sponsorships for its live original sports programming with the National Basketball Association, according to Adweek. JBL Harman and American Express will serve ads on two new shows native to the platform, The Starters and The Warmup.
- The NBA-focused shows were announced late last month and are produced by Twitter partner Turner Sports. The Starters airs Tuesday mornings and The Warmup will broadcast Thursday nights in a regular weekly schedule similar to linear TV programming.
- The Starters and The Warmup are Twitter's first notable push for original offerings, and could help further monetize live video on the platform with the new sponsorships.
Coming down to the tail end of an otherwise gloomy fiscal year for Twitter, it saw decent Q3 earnings that were likely boosted by the many live video deals the platform has brokered with partners. Twitter currently has deals in place with every major sports organization, including the NBA and the NFL. A 10-game, $10 million package with the latter was considered the crown jewel of the site’s media partnerships.
Though the micro-blogging site recently cut 9% of its staff and mobile offerings like Vine as a belt-tightening measure, the JBL and Amex ad buys show that brand interest remains strong, and that those brands are also willing to take risks on original content.
As competitors like Facebook and Instagram push more into live video, Twitter’s advantage remains in its marquee partnerships, with the NBA and the NFL being particularly attractive to advertisers. Replicating a traditional TV model with weekly original content might benefit Twitter, the NBA and sponsors alike, as the shows could hook young demos who are increasingly turning away from linear television in favor of digital channels like live streaming.
“With more and more people joining the cord cutting pool, the more Twitter will be able to capitalize on those people who don’t have TV subscriptions,” Jessica Liu, a senior analyst of B2C marketing at Forrester, told Marketing Dive in October.
Twitter also has distinct, in-the-moment second screen capabilities that other social platforms lack, as users can tweet discourse as shows air, as well as like, favorite and retweet posts from program pages like @TheStarters. The potential for community building and going viral here is immense, and the renewed interest from advertisers like Amex and JBL might help right Twitter's ship yet.