NFL, Twitter Expand Social Media Distribution

The National Football League (NFL) and Twitter have announced a multiyear partnership extension, which will include expanded engagement formats and a full-season commitment to produce exclusive content on Twitter Spaces, Twitter’s new live-audio feature. Twitter will also continue to be a home for the games’ biggest moments — all the touchdowns, leaping catches, incredible runs, and celebrations after they happen, from season Kickoff to Super Bowl.

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The NFL is the first sports league to partner with Twitter to offer sponsored Twitter Spaces, giving both brands and fans new opportunities to connect and engage with live NFL audio. The NFL’s Twitter Spaces will be available throughout the season, as well as in conjunction with NFL tentpole events including Kickoff, Super Bowl, the NFL Draft and more. The Spaces will include participation from current NFL players and other NFL talent to discuss season matchups and insights.

The partnership will continue to engage fans each week of the season through:

  • New Highlight Offerings — Curated videos featuring recaps of the best touchdowns, highlights and Tweets each week of the season with first-of-its-kind opportunities for brands.
  • Expanded NFL Twitter Votes — Fans will be invited to vote each week on the hottest topics and takes burning through the NFL Twittersphere in an expanded set of Twitter Polls.
  • Providing Fans the Best Moments From Every Game — The NFL and its Clubs will bring the best moments from every game to the #NFLTwitter community through highlights, and on-field coverage and Twitter Moments.

 

“The commitment to Twitter Spaces represents another innovative step forward in the longstanding partnership between the NFL and Twitter,” Blake Stuchin, VP of digital media business development for the NFL, said in a statement.

Since announcing their first partnership agreement in 2013, the NFL has developed live programming and distributed on-demand content that takes advantage of Twitter’s unique features to appeal to its highly engaged audience.

TikTok Triples Video Streaming Length to 3 Minutes

Social video-sharing media behemoth TikTok is expanding the length it will allow users to post videos to three minutes from 60 seconds.

With 689 million monthly active users worldwide, the Chinese-owned app has a strong following in the U.S., which leads in the platform’s monthly revenue and users.

In a blog post, product manager Drew Kirchhoff said the move underscored the platform’s desire to afford users an “even richer storytelling and entertainment” experience.

“With all the ways our community has redefined expression in under 60 seconds, we’re excited to see how people continue to entertain and inspire with a few more seconds — and a world of creative possibilities,” Kirchhoff wrote.

The move underscores increasing competition within the social media video space with recent launches that include YouTube Shorts, Instagram’s Reels, Snapchat’s Spotlight and Triller, among others.

TikTok generated nearly $2.1 million in U.S. app revenue from Apple’s iOS platform in February, according to Statista. The U.S. accounted for 44% of TikTok’s revenue throughout the Apple App Store.

Solved: The Case of the Mysterious HBO Max Email

It’s been an eventful week for WarnerMedia’s subscription streaming video platform HBO Max. The service June 18 reported downed service for about an hour throughout parts of the country.

“We’re aware some customers may be experiencing issues streaming #HBOMax and appreciate your patience as we work to resolve this as quickly as possible,” Max’s customer service tweeted.

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While streaming service interruptions are not uncommon and not unique to HBO Max, considering the labyrinth system of networks, routers and related third-party connections required to stream video into user homes, one particular issue stands out.

On June 17, many Max subscribers received a series of emails with the headline: “HBO Max Integration Test #1.” The body of the email read: “This template is used by integration tests only.”

Apparently enough subscribers received the strange email that Max responded via social media — with an explanation: The intern did it.

“We apologize for the inconvenience, as the jokes pile in, yes, it was the intern. No, really. And we’re helping them through it,” @HBOMaxHelp tweeted later — suggesting there may have been more than one culprit.

Regardless, social media embraced the snafu as either a great publicity stunt or predictable event in the information age. The tweet generated 156,000 “likes” and retweeted 10,900 times.

Numerous respondents shared similar tales of workplace embarrassment caused by personal blunders, including @Caissie, who remembered using a company-wide calendar to record personal information.

Another, @postcards4usa, posted the time they interned at the White House and tried to stop the VP from entering a Cabinet meeting.

“I once didn’t recognize then-VP George HW Bush and almost didn’t let him into a meeting … in the Cabinet Room. Of The White House. Where he worked. Woman shrugging He was actually as gracious as HBO Max Help appears to be being … you’ll be fine.”

 

 

Biden Ends Trump-Era War on China’s TikTok, WeChat Apps

President Biden June 9 signed an executive order effectively ending the former Trump Administration’s efforts to force a sale of Chinese-owned social media app TikTok to American business interests.

The order ends the former administration’s war on the WeChat app, a multi-purpose messaging, social media and mobile payment app developed by Chinese media giant Tencent. The Trump administration had sought the ban in the United States, citing national security risks.

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Biden’s order stipulates that the Commerce Department is now tasked with determining the potential security risks associated with software owned and operated by foreign adversaries, among other responsibilities.

“I have determined that additional consideration must be given in addressing the national emergency declared in [Trump’s] Executive Order 13873 of May 15, 2019, including the threat posed by certain connected software applications designed, developed, manufactured, or supplied by persons owned by, controlled by, or subject to the jurisdiction or direction of a foreign adversary,” Biden wrote in a letter to Congress explaining his executive order.

Trump last August issued an executive order mandating the ban unless TikTok sold its U.S. operations. An acquisition deal involving chip maker Oracle and Walmart for 20% in a newly configured ByteDance parent remains in the works, but has not been finalized.

A federal judge last September issued a preliminary injunction stopping Trump’s proposed ban that would have effectively stopped 100 million Americans who use TikTok for social messaging and commercial influencing.

The move wasn’t unprecedented considering China blocks its citizens from using American apps such as Facebook, Twitter and Netflix.

Regardless, the political posturing between the U.S. and China over TikTok saw its CEO Kevin Mayer, the former Disney executive who help launch Disney+, exit the company. Mayer was also COO of TikTok parent ByteDance.

In March, Mayer was named chairman of the DAZN sports-themed subscription streaming service.

Netflix to Launch First Geeked Week

Netflix will launch its first “Geeked Week” June 7-11 on social media. 

The free, five-day virtual event will highlight such Netflix series and films as “Stranger Things,” “The Witcher,” “Castlevania,” “The Umbrella Academy” and The Old Guard and will offer fans exclusive news, new trailers, live art, drop-ins from stars and more.

“These fandoms aren’t just about making GIFs, buying merch or theorizing about the next big twist(s),” read the announcement. “They’re about sharing excitement and connecting with people from all over the world who hold the same passion for those characters and stories.”

Info is at GeekedWeek.com, TwitterInstagramTwitch and Facebook.

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March Madness Boosts Schools’ Social Media Buzz

While there can only be one national champion in men’s and women’s NCAA college basketball, the annual March Madness tournament has made winners of the schools competing in each event.

New data from Conviva found that since day one of the tournament, the 64 dedicated women’s college basketball social media accounts have gained more than 110,000 new followers; featured 5,715 posts and videos; generated more than 3.4 million engagements; received 1.9 million views on Facebook videos; realized a 300% increase in average engagements per video across all teams compared to regular season averages; and saw a 100% increase in cross-platform engagement rate for all teams compared to regular season averages.

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On the men’s side, across all teams in the tournament, total cross-platform engagements were more than 10.6 million. Facebook was a big driver in viewership as total views across all the teams measured were 4.4 million. Throughout the tournament, the men’s basketball social accounts measured have grown in aggregate by 250,000 followers each.

Arkansas is the only team to break one million cross-platform engagements in the tournament so far, followed by Michigan and Syracuse with 867,000 and 664,000 engagements, respectively. The Sweet 16 was very sweet for Oral Roberts. Even though they lost their round of 16 bid by just two points to fellow social media titans Arkansas, Oral Roberts saw a 4332% increase in engagements (251,000) per post versus their regular season. Pre-tournament favorite Gonzaga has seen an engagement increase of 149% during the tournament compared to the regular season.

“Many fans are taking to social media to follow and support their favorite—or new favorite—teams,” read the report.

U.S. Viewers Spent 116% More Time Streaming SVOD Content on Social Video Platforms in 2020

In the highly competitive subscription streaming video market, services are using social media to engage viewers, entice subscribers and remain out front among targeted consumers.

New research from Tubular Labs, a social video analytics firm, found a 116% uptick in minutes streamed via social media among the Top 10 SVOD platforms through January with 932 million minutes, compared with 432 million minutes in February 2020 — ahead of the pandemic.

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Not surprisingly, SVODs excel at younger audience reach on social video, with 67% of top platforms’ audience between 13 and 34 years old, while only 54% of audience for top traditional TV broadcasters fall into this younger audience bucket.

The report found that Netflix diversifies its social video content more than any other SVOD, featuring longer content trailers, special behind-the-scenes content, interviews, clip compilations and talent snippets.

Tubular found that Netflix generated 93.2 million unique viewers in the U.S. across social media platforms in January — a tally that dwarfed runner-up Disney+ with 21.8 million and Amazon Prime Video with 19.9 million. Netflix’s tally is impressive considering the SVOD pioneer only has 67.5 million subs in the United States.

For example, Netflix’s award-winning series “The Queen’s Gambit,” a major hit in 2020, generated 46% of its viewership through social media searches on Facebook. About 11.7 million viewers were generated by social media influencers, including sketch artists illustrating lead actress Anya Taylor-Joy, and the chess community turned on its ear by the sudden cultural popularity; followed 6.6 million driven by media attention, i.e. TV talk shows, trade publications, etc., and 300,000 via brand recognition. The majority (21.9 million views) came from Netflix subscriptions.

The “nostalgia route” was a popular marketing strategy during the pandemic with content that reflected older/familiar movies and TV shows used most by Netflix and Disney+. Beyond subtitled or dubbed trailers, Disney+ expanded its international reach significantly in the past year,  with local channels and a social video strategy adapted to local markets. Indeed, more than 30% of Disney’s 101 million global SVOD subscribers come from India.

Redbox Giving Away Office ‘Stuff’

Redbox, the kiosk DVD rental chain and online TV streaming service, is looking to pad its social media followers. The company took to Twitter offering to give away branded merchandise and other “stuff” from its Oakbrook Terrace, Ill.-based headquarters if it gets to 350,000 followers.

“My boss said that if we got to 350K followers, I can start giving away things I find in the office,” read the tweet.

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The post attracted 309 likes, 53 retweets and 49 comments. Among the more amusing posts:

OrangeCrushtina (@OrangeCrushtina) wrote, “Show me what we’re working with before I RT this.”

@Redbox: “a mug, posters, movies and i can probably find a handful of used highlighters too”

Scott Ottersen (@scottersen), who seemed to have inside knowledge of Redbox offices, wrote: “Is the electronic basketball hoop still in the Oakbrook office? If so, dibs.”

@Redbox: “Noted”

Bruhzinga (@TweetsBostons) wrote: “Save me a Tape Dispenser and Pencil Sharpener, also I assume working at Redbox means you can hook me up with Avengers: Age of Ultron”

@Redbox: “i don’t think i could find a pencil if i tried”

 

Netflix Adding Comedy Clips to Mobile App

Netflix has begun rolling out short-form comedy clips for its mobile-centric subscribers. Taking a page from social media platform TikTok, Netflix’s clips — dubbed “Fast Laughs,” offer full-screen feed of funny clips from the streamer’s comedy catalog, including movie Murder Mystery; “Big Mouth” series; sitcom “The Crew,” and standup comedians Kevin Hart and Ali Wong, among others.

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“You access the feed through your bottom navigation menu by clicking on the Fast Laugh tab,” Patrick Flemming, director, product innovation, wrote in a blog post. “Clips will start playing — when one ends, another begins.”

Fast Laughs is available on iPhone in select countries, and will begin testing on Android devices in the near future, according to Flemming.

Report: Big-Screen TVs, Roku Drove Streaming Video Consumption in Q4

Viewer time spent streaming video in the fourth quarter (ended Dec. 31, 2020) increased 44% compared with the fourth quarter of 2019 — underscoring a significant year for the streaming industry, according to new data from Conviva.

Big television screens captured more than 75% of all viewing time, led by Roku with a 31% share of all TV viewing and followed by Amazon Fire TV (19%) and Samsung TV (10%).

Data was collected from Conviva’s proprietary sensor technology currently embedded in 3.3 billion streaming video applications, measuring in excess of 500 million unique viewers watching 180 billion streams per year, with 1.5 trillion real-time transactions per day across more than 180 countries.

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“The way consumers view content fundamentally changed in 2020 with launch of new streaming services, the rapid adoption of smart TVs and connected TV devices and changing social behavior,” CEO Bill Demas said in a statement. “While the year was clearly defined by spikes in streaming viewing associated with COVID-19 restrictions, the shift to streaming is anything but temporary and we anticipate global streaming viewership to continue to increase in 2021.” 

The smart-TV category drove much of the Q4 growth, experiencing a 157% year-over-year increase in viewing hours and nearly doubling in overall share of viewing time. Connected TV devices also tallied significant growth in viewing hours, up 38% year over year and earned nearly 50% share of global streaming viewing time.

Connected TV devices did lose a small percentage of share for the second quarter in a row, dropping from 51% to 49.1% year over year, due in large part to the growing popularity of smart TVs.

Big screens also dominated in engagement. Television viewers watched for an average of 28.7 minutes each time they pressed play. Chromecast demanded the longest watch time at 35.5 minutes per play, followed closely by Roku at 33.3 minutes per play. In contrast, mobile phones tallied just 8.6 minutes per play.

Social Media Streaming Declined

Cross-platform video engagement rates dropped significantly in Q4 as compared to the same time the previous year. Entertainment and brand accounts saw the largest decreases, each down around 26%, while media and sports accounts were slightly less affected with declines of 22% and 18% respectively.

YouTube was the only social platform to show an increase in audience share across the entertainment, media, brands and sports categories. Media and sports accounts saw the largest increases in YouTube followings with share increases of 5% and 5.4% percentage points respectively. Longer videos became more common on YouTube as well, with average video length increasing in sports, entertainment and media accounts by 60%, 59% and 34%, respectively.

Conviva said the social data consists of data from more than 120 accounts, over 3 million posts, 778,000 videos, 84 billion video views and more than 10 billion engagements across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.