Twitter has become even more of a cable company


If Twitter’s biggest challenge is attracting new users to its service and showing investors that it can compete with Facebook, the company’s latest move seems aimed directly at solving that problem.

Twitter is starting to offer individual users and entities the chance to earn money from the videos they post, according to reports. And the terms seem quite favorable to content creators, who will be able to earn 70% of the ad dollars from their videos. That’s a little more money than what YouTube or Facebook are offering.

By rolling out the change, Twitter is moving closer to a business model that has defined another industry for roughly three decades.

As anyone with a cable subscription knows, Time Warner Cable or Cox does not make the programming you find in your lineup. Instead, companies like ESPN and HBO produce shows that they then market to distributors.

What the folks at Twitter (and to a similar extent Facebook and YouTube) have done is piggyback this model on the new Internet economy.

In April, Twitter announced it was expanding into live sports coverage by signing a deal with the NFL to broadcast Thursday night football games live. The development may not appeal to sports fans accustomed to watching games on TV, but for the growing share of Americans who get their TV primarily through the internet, it could be a big signal of what’s to come. Indeed, at the time, Twitter said it was also considering switching to live political coverage, another popular form of television content.

The prospect of Twitter offering a sort of “skinny package” – which includes news, sports and other TV content – underscores the growing resemblance between social networks on the one hand and cable operators on the other. Although Twitter has refused to charge subscription fees like a regular cable company, it’s clear that different parts of the once clearly separated multimedia entertainment complex are rapidly collapsing into a single competitive space.

In a world where attention spans are precious and limited, Twitter’s bet on video helps draw viewers away from cable while replicating some of its most iconic features. And at its core, the company’s revenue sharing with individual video creators is the latest example: it’s just a small-scale version of the payment-for-programming deals that big companies make all the time. time. And with all that content, Twitter may be able to more easily create attractive bundles for different groups.

The only big difference? Cable customers don’t have the power to ask their providers to pay them for anything they create. But on the Internet, anyone can become a paid programmer. And Twitter wants to bring that to the bank.

© 2016 The Washington Post

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