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Next TV Summit: Twitter’s Fred Graver: ‘We Know The TV Business’

Company’s TV Team Chief Says Social Network Giant Can Help Networks Boost Ratings, Make Money 9/13/2013 10:02 AM Eastern

San Francisco -- Twitter’s integration with social fabric of television and the programmers that are producing the shows themselves isn’t just a complementary, flight of fancy, but the creation of new bona fide money-making opportunities, Fred Graver, the head of Twitter’s TV team, said here at this week’s Next TV Summit.

“We have set ourselves as a complement to the TV industry,” he said Wednesday afternoon during a keynote Q&A with Broadcasting & Cable editor-in-chief Melissa Grego. “We know the TV business; we know people in the industry.”

Graver, a programming vet and exec who is late of MTV, NBC, Travel Channel, and Disney, explained that Twitter has been active in calling up producers and working up strategies in which the social networking platform can help to build their audience and ratings…and pull in some new revenues.

“We have actually found ways to help networks make money,” Graver said, citing examples in which Twitter and networks have worked together on campaigns that promote shows via the platform. Some of that work has included the embedding of streaming video highlights into the Twitter “card” itself.

Twitter, which has developed campaigns around big TV events such as the NBA Finals, the NCAA basketball tournament and ABC series Scandal, is competing for the share of consumers who use second-screen TV apps, but the size and nature of its platform make Twitter  particularly well-suited for the live audience, he said.

“The value of Twitter as a platform is that it’s live and public and conversational. An audience begins to form around those shows,” said Graver, who joined Twitter last June. “Twitter wasn’t built as a second screen device, but every night millions of people use it that way.”

Watercoolers are a social gathering place from an earlier age, but Twitter now represents the “watercooler conversation, writ large,” Graver said.

But is Twitter right for every type of show? Some viewers, for example, are more likely to use Twitter during a live sports event or a soapy series like Scandal, but might put social networking aside so they aren’t distracted when following the story line of a more complicated serial drama like AMC’s Mad Men.

Graver said there’s ways around that, noting that viewers can wait to tweet out their reactions during the commercial breaks, while others, such as AMC, encourage viewers to “tweet the repeat.”

“We don’t want to get in the way of the storyteller,” he said, but Twitter “has become a great tool for storytellers.”

Twitter has been fleshing out its social TV strategy internally, through partnerships and via M&A. On the latter, the company recently inked a deal to buy Trendrr, a New York-based firm that specializes in tracking TV-focused social media activity that works with some big names, including ABC, MTV, Telemundo and Univision, and has already developed a Twitter-certified product called Curatorr. Twitter also has a multiyear partnership with Nielsen aimed at producing a “Nielsen Twitter TV Rating” via the use of syndicated-standard metrics.

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