Twitter is the launch partner for Comcast’s “See It,” a platform that will enable Comcast customers to tune to live TV or set DVR recordings directly from the Twitter application, but Comcast envisions that the button will eventually show up on a broad array of other Internet applications.
“Ultimately, we’re looking forward to putting the See It button across more apps and Web sites,” Sam Schwartz, Comcast Cable’s chief business development officer, told Multichannel News Wednesday in an interview.
Comcast hasn’t identified any of those potential targets by name, but Facebook, which is also forging a social TV strategy, is one logical candidate. Facebook was not yet commented on See It.
See It, developed by Comcast and set to launch sometime next month, will allow Xfinity customers to tune to a channel, start a VOD title on the set-top box, jump to a TV Everywhere app on a mobile device, and set reminders, via the Twitter app.
But See It will also offer valuable video discovery features for other consumers. “This is nationwide, not just for Comcast,” Schwartz said. “If you’re not an Xfinity subscriber, there’s still functionality in that button. It sort of has something for everyone.”
Schwartz said Comcast is already having discussions about extending See It to other video distributors and programmers so they can join the real-time TV conversation on Twitter in a new, measurable way.
“We believe that this is a good thing for distributors because it helps people discover more content that they’re already paying for," he said.
At this stage, joining the See It club will be free. “Right now we don’t have any plans to charge for it,” Schwartz said. The other piece of the Comcast-Twitter partnership – NBCU’s involvement with Twitter’s advertising-focused Amplify program, which promotes shows and video clips in sponsored, embedded tweets – will use a revenue sharing model.
“Right now there’s not really a financial component to that [See It] arrangement, but we both think that we’re getting a lot of benefit out of partnering,” Schwartz said. “From a cable point of view, we think we’re going to get people to discover and use our service a lot more.”
Tim Hanlon, the CEO of Chicago-based investment advisory and strategic consulting firm The Vertere Group, said the partnership should help both sides because the TV industry is trying to catch up with social networking trends while Twitter looks to flesh out a business model amid its pursuit of an initial public offering.
“In a perverse way, they both need each other going forward,” Hanlon said. “Twitter is trying to become something much more than a communications curiosity, but a broad-based platform of sorts. It [the partnership with Comcast and NBCU] at least puts Twitter in the same sentence as the multi-billion dollar TV industry.”
And time will tell if that industry follows along. Operators and programmers contacted by Multichannel News have not announced any commitments to integrate Comcast’s See It button/platform, but at least one acknowledged that talks are underway.
“We have had discussions, and we’re looking into it,” a Time Warner Cable spokeswoman said via email. “We continue to explore different ways to integrate our customers’ interests with their viewing experience.”
Cox Communications continues to “conduct research with our customers and explore ways to add value to our services and help them better connect to the content they care about,” a spokesman said. “Some of these potential future product enhancements based on research could include partnerships with other organizations and integrations of new technology.”
FierceCable reported this week that Cox recently launched the Cox MVP Community, a social TV reward program that awards points to subscribers who recommend shows to Facebook friends and Twitter followers.
Officials for Charter Communications, CBS, Scripps Networks Interactive and Discovery Networks declined to comment about See it.