Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Twitter Loves TV, and the Feeling Is Mutual

Twitter has been making a persistent pitch to TV in recent months: Work with us, and we’ll boost your ratings.

And here’s a TV network taking them up on the offer: Viacom’s Comedy Central, which is counting on Twitter to promote its “Comedy Awards” show tonight.

The network has linked up with the service before. Last month, for instance, it devoted on-screen real estate throughout its Donald Trump roast to hashtag terms it wanted viewers to use as they talked up the show on Twitter. Users who obliged ended up creating free, real-time advertising for the program.

Comedy Central plans to do the same thing with tonight’s show. But it’s taking the integration deeper by buying a “promoted trend” in advance of the broadcast.

Click through and you’ll end up at a page promoting the show, the network’s attempt to create an annual Oscars-style event (which was taped two weeks ago, a fact the network isn’t trying to hide: you can see the winners here). And if you end up on the site while the show is airing tonight, you’ll see a livestream of the telecast, along with a dedicated Twitter widget.

The network is hoping it will be able to get other related terms to trend–for free–as the day goes on; it has recruited about a dozen of the comedians that will appear on the show to actively Twitter about it in advance.

Twitter and Comedy Central were hoping to push the partnership even further by embedding a livestream of tonight’s broadcast on Twitter.com itself, alongside the “#comedyawards” page. But technical issues forced them to scrap the plan Friday morning.

Comedy Central isn’t relying solely on Twitter to push tonight’s show. It will simulcast the show on five other Viacom-owned channels, including Spike and VH1. And for good measure, it will stream the show to Apple’s iPad and iPhone, and handsets running Google’s Android.

But it’s most excited about Twitter, in large part because comedians themselves have flocked to the service in the last couple years. “It just seems like a natural fit”, says Steve Grimes, who oversees digital for the network.

Twitter is quietly excited, too. Even without the embeded video feature, tonight’s show gives it a chance to promote a cycle that would be particularly virtuous for Twitter: TV networks advertise on the service, get higher ratings, and can charge more for their own advertising. Repeat.


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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald