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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 12 December 2018

Disney, Twitter to work on live programming for social-media platform

It's part of a push to turn Twitter’s service into a destination for premium streaming video

A monitor displays Twitter signage on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Walt Disney is working with Twitter to create content for the social-media platform. Michael Nagle / Bloomberg
A monitor displays Twitter signage on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Walt Disney is working with Twitter to create content for the social-media platform. Michael Nagle / Bloomberg

Walt Disney is working with Twitter to create live sports programming and other content for the social media platform, part of a push to turn Twitter’s service into a destination for premium streaming video.

Twitter and the Disney-owned ESPN sports network will announce specific live shows in development this week at their NewFront presentations, the companies said in an emailed statement. Disney’s media portfolio includes television networks ABC, Disney Channel and Freeform; the Disney Digital Network; Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures; Radio Disney; and the Marvel comic-book universe. The companies said live content from those properties under the accord will be announced later.

The news sent Twitter shares up as much as 6 per cent to $30.74. The stock had climbed 21 per cent this year through the end of last week.

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Twitter has been trying to broaden its appeal and lure users by becoming a place to discover "what’s happening now". Efforts to bulk up its streaming offerings have begun to pay off, and video has contributed more than half of advertising revenue for two quarters running. The pact with Disney gives Twitter a bigger arsenal of content that will help it compete against larger rivals, including Facebook, that are also doubling down on livestreaming and video. Facebook’s Watch platform is starting to show scripted series and recently paid at least $30 million to stream 25 Major League Baseball games, Bloomberg reported in March.

Bloomberg produces TicToc, a global breaking news network for the Twitter service.

In 2016, Disney was identified as one of several companies considering a bid for Twitter, which was struggling to increase revenue and add users. At the time, people familiar with the matter said Disney decided not to pursue a bid partly out of concern that bullying and other potentially inappropriate content on the social network might tarnish Disney’s wholesome family image.