Social TV: New deal links Twitter and TV

The connection between Twitter and television is about to grow in a whole new direction.

On Wednesday, Shaw Media announced a new venture that will see original content related to favourite TV shows appearing exclusively via Twitter.

"We're creating a social TV lovechild between Twitter and Shaw," says Shaw Media vice president of Digital Media Paul Burns.

Burns made the announcement as part of Shaw's "Upfront 2013" news conference in Toronto.

On Thursday, Bell Media also announced a partnership with Twitter, albeit one that is based more on research than content.

The Shaw deal would see viewers who watch Global/Shaw specialty network shows such as "Top Chef Canada" or "Big Brother Canada" interact directly with those series. Scripted shows will also be part of the mix.

"We would actually create customized content experiences that no one else sees anywhere else, created especially for Twitter," said Burns.

A viewer of "Vikings," for example, could find links on Twitter to outtakes or second takes from a scene they just watched in real time on the series.

"The real time nature of this is what's really exciting about the opportunity," says Burns.

A few networks in the U.S., including ESPN and Fox, have already experimented with Twitter in similar content deals. The Shaw-Twitter venture is being billed as a first for Canada.

The Bell Media venture is more research based and will tap into, according to their release, "the social TV behaviour of Canadian viewers, the return on investment of social TV initiatives and the relationship between audience engagement and Twitter activity."

Bell Media President Kevin Cull echoed the sentiment expressed at Rogers. "Our content drives engagement, and Twitter 'amplifies' the conversation."

Bell claims they have Canada's most-followed media property, @MuchMusic, and most-followed media personality, @TSNBobMcKenzie, who has over 555,000 Twitter followers.

Former CBC Executive vice president Kirstine Stewart, now country director of Twitter Canada, helped put together both deals.

"We worked very closely with her," says Burns of Stewart. "She was a few weeks into the job in Canada. We called her up and we had a conversation."

More information will be available at Twitter Canada's official launch presentation on June 13.

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