Media Buzz

From the Emmys to the Super Bowl, Twitter wants your TV chatter (and network cash)

FILE: Men are silhouetted against a video screen with a Twitter logo as he poses with a Samsung S4 smartphone.

FILE: Men are silhouetted against a video screen with a Twitter logo as he poses with a Samsung S4 smartphone.  (REUTERS)

Twitter and television are about to get hitched, and as in any good marriage, each side brings something to the table.

The networks need the buzz. And Twitter needs the cash, especially because it’s moving toward a big IPO.

So how much is online chatter worth, anyway?

Journalists know as well as anyone that amassing Twitter followers and becoming part of the conversation is crucial to our, and I hate this word, brand.

Well, the same goes for TV shows trying to build an audience.

Now the Wall Street Journal reports that Twitter is pushing a service called Amplify, in which it jointly sells ads with television and media companies.

The product is intriguing. The networks post short video replays on Twitter in very close to real time, the video is sponsored by a brand and each side gets a cut of the revenue.

One early client, although it hasn’t done much yet, is Fox Sports.

CBS is doing the tweeting thing this week (#CBSTweetWeek), trotting out stars from such shows as “NCIS” and “Hostages,” but the Journal says it has not signed on to Amplify.

Is this the future? Nielsen, which is revamping its ratings system, will include a Twitter-related function that measures how many people see tweets about a particular show.

I don’t think that necessarily equates to big numbers, as a group of fanatics can post endless messages, but Nielsen says a surge in tweets boosted ratings in 29 percent of the episodes that the company studied.

Such initiatives are obviously important to the future of a company that now gets most of its revenue from “sponsored” trends and tweets.

But for the rest of us, it’s about the second screen experience that is becoming part of our lives.

If you’re watching the Emmys, you can hop online to see who out there is snarking about the speeches and the outfits.

The same tendency to share and debate and carp online is true if you’re a fan of “Homeland” or “Scandal,” or binging on “House of Cards” on Netflix or “Alpha House” on Amazon, or watching the Super Bowl halftime.

Just watching TV by itself seems … very 2006.

It is little wonder that Twitter, Facebook, Google and the comments sections of many websites would like to capture this traffic.

And the best part? This interactive debate broadens the conversation from paid critics to the masses who watch television.

ObamaCare: The Prequel

With ObamaCare forming the backdrop of the latest budget showdown, Politico has a telling anecdote about how the president started down this road.

In January 2007, shortly before he announced his candidacy, Obama was thinking of passing on an invitation to a big health care conference sponsored by a liberal group. Instead, two aides, Robert Gibbs and Jon Favreau, suggested that he grab attention by promising to pass universal health care in his first term.

“We needed something to say,” recalled one of the advisers involved in the discussion. “I can’t tell you how little thought was given to that thought other than it sounded good. So they just kind of hatched it on their own. It just happened. It wasn’t like a deep strategic conversation.” 

My money’s on Favreau, who is quoted elsewhere in the piece.

It would be eye-opening to believe that we now have an incredibly controversial health care law because of a brief blip of campaign strategy. But as the story makes clear, Obama became incredibly committed to pushing major health reform; reversing his opposition to Hillary’s individual mandate idea and sticking with it even when his advisers warned of the political damage.

As senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer is quoted as saying, “He was incredibly emotionally invested, and he remains to this day.”

Going Natural

Newsweek's new owner, IBT Media, has a rather strict dress code.

"Midriffs are to be covered,” it starts out. “Denim jeans, sweat suits, low-rise pants, sneakers, sandals, flip-flops, halter tops, camisoles, baseball caps, sweat suits, T-shirts, tank tops, micro mini-skirts, shorts or anything else that is deemed unprofessional or excessively distracting are inappropriate business attire and should not be worn to work."

O-kay. Then we get to no "open-toe sandals," and this: "Well-groomed, business style hair of natural color is required."

Natural color?

Is that the sound of blondes walking out en masse?

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Howard Kurtz is a Fox News analyst and the host of "MediaBuzz" (Sundays 11 a.m.). He is the author of five books and is based in Washington. Follow him at @HowardKurtz. Click here for more information on Howard Kurtz.