For couch potatoes, Twitter tangoes with TV channels

Television partnerships are a key way in which the company is looking to monetize its user base globally. Last year, it paid $67 million for Bluefin Labs, a startup that uses analytics to tie social media chatter to television. In India, Twitter already has a tie-up with Airtel DTH, which allows customers to view tweets on their television screen. More deals in the space are underway. "We want to make Twitter the second screen for television channels in India. In keeping with television, I would say stay tuned," said Rishi Jaitly, India market director at Twitter.

India is a strategic growth market for Twitter so the current focus is on driving user growth and less on monetization. India will account for the third-largest market for the micro-blogging site, with 18.1 million users by the end of 2014, according to research firm eMarketer. Globally, Twitter has more than 270 million monthly active users. The TV strategy helps Twitter as it increases the conversation around hit shows and helps the channels by getting new viewers to tune in.

"We've worked with a number of channels like general entertainment channels Colors and Star. Even Doordarshan has a very interesting personality on Twitter. The idea is to educate brands and teach the best practices like talking to your audience and getting the talent involved," said Pratiksha Rao, entertainment partnerships manager at Twitter.

The company is working on a four-pillar strategy to boost user growth — partnering with broadcasters by getting actors on the platform, deploying products such as Twitter missed-call that work on feature phones, and by getting brands involved to drive engagement and advertising spend on the microblogging site.

The channels are also using Twitter to drum up audiences for their shows. Star Plus is debuting the promo for the Aamir Khan-hosted Satyamev Jayate on the site by asking fans to tweet a hashtag. Colors' dance show Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa tweets images from the programme before it airs to try and boost viewership.

News channels have been using Twitter to drive viewer engagement for some time. "Second-screen devices such as tablets, smartphones and ultrabooks are likely to be the principal force behind social TV experiences. TV and video content providers such as cable companies have a great opportunity to target heavy users with social TV in order to reduce potential churn," Michael Gartenberg, research director at Gartner, said in a note.

Helping Twitter boost conversation and engagements around TV are startups like Frrole. The company works with a slew of TV channels like TimesNow, UTV and Ten Sports to create a social TV experience.

Twitter's strategy will also help it get a larger share of the social media advertising expenditure in the country. The Internet and Mobile Association of India has estimated that the social media advertising market is about 15% of the total online digital spending of about Rs 2,938 crore for FY14.

"From a business perspective, Twitter sees and opportunity with TV and as an ecosytem partner that build these solutions for channels so do we. We work with a number of shows and we think that there will be more social integration on general entertainment shows going forward," Amarpreet Kalkat, co-founder of Frrole told ET.

The company posted revenue of $312 million in its most recent quarter. It's working on areas such as adding products from tweets directly to an Amazon cart, including a buy button on tweets and is also rolling out a 'promoted video' product.

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