Microblogging giant Twitter had made it clear in no uncertain terms that it is looking at partnering with TV broadcast business in a big way. These words were seen put into action when they appointed Viral Jani as the Head for Television Strategy & Partnerships of Twitter India just a month ago in August. In an exclusive interview with exchange4media Jani speaks about creating a space in the TV broadcast industry in India where Twitter is at the core of the content strategy.
Excerpts from the interview:
How are you looking to drive the TV broadcast division for Twitter?
We have seen that there is a tremendous amount of appetite for innovation for doing something really interesting on Twitter and basically to engage with audiences on Twitter from the broadcasters. This is not only from broadcasters but the overall TV ecosystem which include actors who really want to engage and create buzz around Twitter and a lot of production houses. My job is basically to reach out to them at a strategic level and to make an impact in bringing great content from their side to Twitter and how they can benefit from that. The way I want to approach this is that there is a content play which can happen in a very big way on Twitter beyond just marketing. One thing is marketing and the second aspect is bringing great content on Twitter. Because that is where the real engagement will happen. My main objective is to get great content on Twitter and advertising will follow after that.
What are the most innovative tie-ups that Twitter has done with TV broadcasters in India?
In July 2015, EPIC channel and Twitter launched an innovation for the channel’s new campaign #EPICat10. The channel became the first broadcaster to use the Twitter Alarm letting followers set a reminder for the 10pm shows. Besides associating with Twitter for innovative campaigns such as #IAmGirlRising and #ह_से_हिन्दी, Star Plus has been using Twitter’s live-streaming app Periscope to engage with audiences for its shows. Viewers of CNN IBN and IBN7 now engage real-time with anchors and journalists through Twitter’s live-streaming app Periscope. Other TV channels such as Times Now, BindassNach and others have been using different Twitter products, including Periscope and Vine, to innovatively engage with audiences.
What is the price range or packages that Twitter offers for its products to broadcasters?
There is no pricing involved per say, it is all about how can we find value in it. Typically if you go out to see in the market there will be a price to it. But if we are getting great content on our platform then we are willing to work with the broadcasters to figure out a way to get them on board. It is our way of encouraging them to be a part of the platform without them literally giving out money, it is about engagement. So my job is to get great content onto the platform rather than worrying about the money.
What is the market size and potential for the TV business in India for Twitter?
The appetite is there and as and when the market matures, we will see some really great content coming out of broadcasters on Twitter and has already started to happen. For instance Amplify is a monetisation product that we have. Once we have a partner who is mature enough to create great content, then there are products like Amplify that we can bring to the table where there is a monetisation and revenue share possibility, where we along with the broadcasters go to the market and basically tell them we have premium content on Twitter which is a broadcaster content and also on TV and we can basically sell it to a sponsor. This will be amplified to an audience which goes beyond that Twitter accounts or followers that they have. Globally for example we have done deals with NFL where there is a sponsor roped in for NFL content on Twitter and both basically benefit from the entire deal. In India there is one deal with Star Sports and Vodafone. But when opportunities arise we will keep doing these things.
How different are international markets to India for the TV broadcast business of Twitter?
Internationally we are seeing many of these sports broadcasters partnering, for example as of now we are working on Ruby World Cup or any major tournament or TV event. Any major event on the world scale is on Twitter. Twitter is the major go to place for all these events. There is a particular maturity that we have seen in markets globally which will also happen in India as well. But as of now my focus is going to be on content. When I say maturity it is the monetisation part that is something that is dependent on the appetite of the market and certain other things. It is not that the market is not mature there are certain products that are yet to find its place in the industry. So in terms of content we are very aggressive in the market and there is enough great stuff happening in the market.
What is the space Twitter is looking to create for itself in the TV business in India?
Basically social TV viewing as a habit is where the magic is. If I have to name a genre which has picked it really well, it is English news. It all started with people giving a hashtag to each new story and there are tremendous amount of hashtag conversations that happen around that. It is almost like integrating at a DNA level. That is the real magic and that is something that we want to replicate across the board. Hashtag voting is one example of that. We want Twitter to be the core of their content strategy when creating their show. We have seen that a lot of shows that have benefitted from Twitter in India and globally and we believe that there is a huge appetite in India and probably in the next few months we will see a lot of interaction around this.
What are your plans for the future in the TV broadcast space?
This October to December is when the heavy duty reality programming starts. We will basically engage with some of the big reality shows where we feel there is a huge scope. You will see some deep level engagement on Twitter. We have some interesting products that we will be bringing in. For example we saw this app called Camera App which got launched during the VMA Awards in the US, so we want to bring that to India with some of their premium partners. We will see some very interesting Periscope integrations coming up in a couple of weeks from now. I can’t reveal names right now but there are some big ticket celebrities that we want to bring in on Periscope and some interesting buzz around that.