Facebook, Twitter Join TV Hopefuls – Report

How many times have we heard this story?

The New York Post is reporting that both Facebook and Twitter Inc. are talking to programmers about negotiating new TV distribution deals. According to the Post's sources, Facebook, which is already bidding for Thursday Night NFL Football, has been meeting with TV executives in recent weeks, and may even be considering creating its own skinny bundle of channels. Twitter, meanwhile, is reportedly boasting of its ability to connect younger audiences to TV networks with a single click.

If the rumors sound familiar, it's no surprise. This is far from the first time a major technology company with a massive customer base has tested the TV industry waters. Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) tried for years to enter the pay-TV business through both software and direct-to-consumer services. The first was a strike-out with cable operators; the second a strike-out with content companies. Google talked to programmers too, but no luck. Then there's Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL). Apple is always on the verge of bringing a killer TV bundle to market... except it never happens. (See Pay-TV: Too Costly to Replicate Online? and Google, Apple Pitch Pay-TV Services.)

For more on TV technology trends, check out our dedicated video services content channel here on Light Reading.

Unexpectedly, Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN) is the one major tech company gaining traction in the TV business. Maybe that's because of the company's massive distribution network, or maybe it's because Amazon isn't trying to get gimmicky with TV, but rather just deliver it -- in an easily accessible way with some exclusive, original content to boot.

Sony Corp. (NYSE: SNE) belongs in the wait-and-see category. The company just went national with its PlayStation Vue TV bundles, but it's only to make services available to consumers with Sony-connected devices.

Facebook and Twitter could follow Amazon's path. They both have the distribution platform and the web-scale, New IP infrastructure to support a TV service, and they're certainly not dependent on a single hardware brand. But so far there's no evidence that either company has figured out the content side of the equation.

And history is littered with tech companies that have tried and failed at TV in the past.

— Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, Light Reading

kq4ym 3/27/2016 | 4:27:48 PM
Re: Twitter It would seem more logical that Amazon would get the first crach at a tv deal. It's just too oddball I would think to team up with Twitter, maybe less so with Facebook. But then Google would seem, with boat loads of investment money , to be in the running but then again if we knew the answer to this we'd all be rich quick.
Joe Stanganelli 3/21/2016 | 2:59:41 AM
Re: Twitter TV on Twitter would certainly seem to indicate some substantial rebranding of the company.  Vine was supposed to be the video answer for Twitter (while keeping upstart competitors like Tout at bay), but it still goes back to their reliance on user-created content.

In Twitter's case, I'll believe it when I see it.
danielcawrey 3/18/2016 | 2:42:16 PM
Twitter There is enormous potential here to combine social with content. Facebook offering NFL games? That would be great for the league as well as for the social network. People already share what they are thinking during games on Facebook, and this would only increase that. 

Same goes for Twitter – in fact, that company needs content in the worst way. It might help them save the business and get a profitable revenue stream going. 
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