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Comcast, NBCU Connect With Twitter

UPDATED: Social TV Partnership Will Enable Comcast Subs To Tune To TV Shows Instantly Via Twitter 10/09/2013 11:22 AM Eastern

Comcast, NBCUniversal and Twitter have forged a social TV strategic partnership and advertising arrangement that initially will enable Comcast video subscribers to instantly tune to TV shows, movies and televised sporting events directly from a tweet.

That feature, called “See It” and developed by Comcast engineers, will support a range of options, allowing users to tune to live TV or start a show on-demand on the set-top box, tune in to show online or via their mobile device, set DVRs and show reminders, and buy theater tickets through Fandango, the Comcast-owned online movie ticketing service.

See It, set to debut in November, will work with several shows from the NBCU network stable, including NBC’s The Voice, The Blacklist, Chicago Fire, The Michael J. Fox Show, Sunday Night Football and Today Show;  NBC’s and NBC Sports Network’s Access Hollywood, coverage of NHL games, Premiere League Soccer, and the Sochi Olympics; and USA Network's Psych and Suits. See It will also support additional shows from CNBC, MSNBC, Syfy, Bravo, Oxygen, E!, Esquire Network and The Golf Channel.

In a typical week, The Voice (#thevoice) “generates more than 350,000,000 Twitter impressions," Sam Schwartz, Comcast Cable’s chief business development officer, said in a blog post about the Twitter partnership. 

The See It feature is made to work with other video distribution partners, networks and Web sites, the companies said, noting that Comcast and Twitter are talking with others about promoting content via See It “in the coming months.”

Schwartz said he expects other video distributors to join the See It mix by early 2014. Programmers, he added, will need to “embed a small, invisible tag” from the See It platform on their respective show’s Web site, enabling Twitter to automatically attach the See It functionality to any tweet that links to that particular Web site.

The social TV partnership also bakes in an advertising piece in which NBCU will link up with Twitter’s Amplify program to drive awareness of TV shows by embedding sponsored, real-time video clips in tweets. NBCU said it will develop Amplify-based campaigns for its entire portfolio of two broadcast networks, 17 cable networks and more than 50 digital properties.

Comcast and Twitter are also exploring other ways to “integrate social TV conversations” into  Comcast’s IP-capable X1 platform, which will be available across the MSO’s footprint by year-end.

The connection with Twitter marks Comcast’s most significant social TV deal yet. Comcast is an investor in zeebox, a startup that has created a second-screen social TV app that relies on data from Twitter and other sources. A recent upgrade enables Comcast customers to use the zeebox as a remote control and tune to channels directly from the app. Comcast has previously said it intends to integrate zeebox into its new "X2" platform/interface for set-tops and mobile devices. Comcast is expected to start X2 upgrades this fall.

The connection with Comcast and NBCU aims to expand Twitter’s developing social TV strategy, coming on the heels of its partnership with Nielsen and the launch of the Nielsen Twitter TV Ratings, which is being billed as the first-ever measure of the total activity and reach of TV-related conversation on Twitter. Twitter has also set plans in motion to raise as much as $1 billion from its initial public offering.

“See It is a simple yet powerful feature that creates an instant online remote control,” said Comcast chairman and CEO Brian Roberts, in a statement. “Comcast is taking a leap forward in social TV by enabling Twitter users to more easily find and view the shows they want to watch and discover new shows.  Twitter complements the live viewing experience and is an ideal partner for Comcast and NBCUniversal.”

"Twitter is where television viewers come to talk about what they’re watching on TV when they’re watching it,” added Twitter CEO Dick Costolo. “Millions of users are exposed to the live conversation that unfolds on Twitter while a show is on the air and now, with See It, they’ll be able to tune in directly from a Tweet. It’s a great example of Comcast’s leadership in bringing TV to new platforms.”

“NBCUniversal’s content is driving the most popular conversations in social media,” said NBCU CEO Steve Burke. “Now with this partnership, our advertisers will be able to reach even more of the specific audiences that they desire.”

September