With partnerships between Twitter and TV networks expanding rapidly, it was only a matter of time before a major cable provider got involved. Comcast has today announced a first-of-its-kind partnership with NBCUniversal (which it now fully owns) and Twitter, a collaboration that potentially carries big benefits for everyone involved. First, Comcast has designed a new feature called “See It” that you'll see embedded in NBCUniversal tweets beginning in November.
Change the channel from a tweet
By clicking the See It button, Xfinity customers will immediately be able to tune into live programming either on their set-top box or right from the smartphone or tablet they're using. Essentially, Twitter could soon replace your remote control. DVR recordings can also be scheduled on the fly, so you'll be able to catch that episode of The Voice you may not be home for. "About three years ago, we launched an iPad app for our subscribers that lets them remotely control their TV,” Comcast's Sam Schwartz tells The Verge, describing that iOS app as one of the company’s most popular “new media” efforts thus far. He views See it as a natural extension of that convenience.
Twitter and Comcast want to bring other partners on board, and soon
The payoff for Comcast here is huge: suddenly it's easier than ever to convert social media conversation into immediate consumption (and ratings). But the company plans to expand See It far beyond its own cable boxes; it's looking to recruit other providers — both cable and satellite distributors — and make it an industry-wide tool. Obviously the company is also hopeful other networks will sign on. "This is a platform that we're launching nationwide," says Schwartz. "There will be something for everybody." Thankfully, non-Xfinity subscribers won't be left out at the start. See It can steer them towards NBC's official app or website, for example.
Comcast developed the See It technology in house and chose Twitter as its initial partner. "We sort of observed lots of conversation, but the link to consumption is sort of broken," says Schwartz. For the soon-to-be-public company, the benefits are also clear. Twitter wants to be the center of television dialogue for millions of users, and See It gives them a way to make that experience more interactive and direct. "What we're trying to do here is link those two things together." The partnership extends to Comcast's X1 set-top box platform; customers will be able to see programing that's trending on Twitter in real time, making it easy to keep track of what's hot on TV from night to night.