Walt Disney Co. is working with Twitter Inc. 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 in New York later today and on Wednesday, 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.
San Francisco-based 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 Inc., 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.
In 2016, Burbank, California-based 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.