TwitterFronts: MMVAs, Homestand Sports and more

The social media company's first Canadian upfront outlined its video programming strategy for the coming season.

In less than a month, one of Canada’s biggest music events will take over a busy Toronto street, millions of television sets and, now, Twitter feeds.

It was announced that the iHeartRadio MMVAs will be broadcast in full on Twitter in Canada, thanks to a deal between the social media platform and Bell Media. It’s a first for Twitter, which had previously only broadcast the MMVAs pre-show.

The deal was one of many announcements made at Twitter Canada’s upfront-style “TwitterFronts,” in which the company unveiled new and expanded content deals and partnerships over the coming year.

To begin, Corus Entertainment will produce two new programs exclusive to Twitter. The first is #TrendingTonight, a twice-weekly show featuring the stars of ET Canada discussing the biggest trends and social movements, and allowing viewers to respond in real-time. The second is #OneDirtyDish, a cooking program featuring Food Network Canada chefs, who will create easy weeknight meals that require only one dish, with ingredients selected by viewers through polls on Twitter.

In addition to the Corus content partnership, Twitter will also sponsor custom in-stream video for BetaKit, which covers Canadian start-up, tech and industry news. Other global deals (which will be also available in Canada) include a 24/7 news network by Bloomberg, a daily morning show from Buzzfeed and a weekday business news series from Cheddar.

Lastly, Homestand Sports, a live events company that specializes in sports interviews, including PitchTalks, HoopTalks, PuckTalks and more, will produce 30 near-weekly episodes for Twitter over the next year. The social content will feature top sports talent and commentators.

Kevin Kennedy, founder and CEO of Homestand Sports, told MiC that partnering with Twitter was a way to “bridge the gap” for those who couldn’t make their live shows (which he says now attract audiences of about 600 per event). “This is a place where we can really grow the brand,” he said.

He added that his company didn’t have a defined media strategy until this point. “We weren’t getting a lot of real stories, because the platforms we’re on feel so rigid. We’d get really quick radio hits, and maybe some TV, but TV can be very conservative,” he said of the decision to invest more in social. “The live platform demands a lot of honesty and authenticity.”

While Homestand hasn’t announced any official sponsors yet, Kennedy said the show opens itself to opportunities such as Q&A and logo integration. He added that because there’s a live event component, it allows for multiplatform advertising opportunities.

Christopher Doyle, head of sports partnerships for Twitter Canada, added that the platform’s audience is especially receptive to sports brands. “They actually appreciate when a brand brings them great content, connects them with players and teams that they love,” he said. “That could mean anything from an opportunity around a contest to win tickets, presenting a Q&A, or sponsoring talent.”

Currently, more than 15 million Canadians use Twitter monthly, and 44% of those users say they check Twitter multiple times a day. Half of Canadian Twitter users are under 35.