By Alexandra Burlacu | Jul 23, 2012 08:00 PM EDT
Popular micro-blogging site Twitter and NBC are working on a partnership for the Olympics, resulting in a dedicated Olympics hub set up on Twitter. This partnership, expected to be officially announced Monday, July 23, will mark one of the first times Twitter serves as a narrator for a live event.
According to a Wall Street Journal report, the partnership with NBCUniversal is designed to help channel the millions of tweets expected to be sent during the Games by athletes, fans, and NBC TV personalities onto a single Twitter page dedicated to the event. As part of the collaboration, NBC will reportedly promote the micro-blogging site on-air with links to athlete interviews and videos.
Twitter hopes to use the Olympics as a launch pad to prove itself as a profitable, sustainable business, notes the WSJ. The popular micro-blogging site, which allows users to post 140-character messages, has reached more than 140 million monthly users and has become a go-to source to see what's new in the world. Twitter executives, however, want the service to reach an even wider audience, especially as the service's ability to draw profits is being questioned.
According to research firm eMarketer, Twitter is expected to generate $259.9 million from advertising this year, which is far less than rival Facebook's $3.15 billion in revenue in 2011. A larger audience could help Twitter expand its advertising business, justify its $8.4 billion valuation, and even allow for an initial public offering (IPO) in the future.
Twitter's Olympic strategy is a crucial step towards such endeavors."This is a way for new users to sample Twitter," said the company's vice president of Media Chloe Sladden, as cited by the WSJ.
This partnership will see no money changing hands, said NBC, adding that it will not share in revenue from ads Twitter is selling to Olympic sponsors for its dedicated Olympics Web site. The Journal further notes that heavy brands such as General Electric Co. and Procter & Gamble Co. have already bought ads on Twitter to promote their ties with the Olympics. GE said it expects "the 2012 Games to be a pinnacle of social activity," while Twitter and P&G offered no comment.
"There's no way of knowing exactly how much advertisers will spend in Twitter during the Olympics, but there is no doubt they will be jockeying for ad space during some of the key events of the Games, when traffic on Twitter will explode," eMarketer analyst Debra Aho Williamson told the WSJ.
After spending months preparing and hosting dozens of sessions with athletes and international sports associations, Twitter will use its Olympics events page to offer insiders' views and to encourage people to watch NBC's on-air and online coverage of the events. In order to ensure interviews, fresh news, and links to TV highlights will show up on Twitter, the micro-blogging company will combine its own staff with NBC's social media team. According to NBC, the Olympics "hashtag" will appear on screen during TV coverage.
NBC's Olympics president Gary Zenkel highlighted that Twitter and NBC are not competing against each other, and said any Olympics coverage helps NBC by fueling viewer interest. "We're quite aware and comfortable with the fact that [Twitter] is a place where news will surface, and in some cases the news will be made," Zenkel told the WSJ. "At the end of the day, the only place you can watch the Olympics - which is what people crave - is NBC."
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