Twitter goes head-to-head with Seven with live stream of Melbourne Cup

Social network Twitter is set to live stream next month’s Melbourne Cup, putting it in direct competition with the Seven Network’s coverage of the nation’s biggest horse race.

The Melbourne Cup

The deal is Twitter’s first foray into live sports streaming outside of the US, where it shocked traditional broadcasters by buying the rights to NFL’s Thursday Night Football fixtures. However, the social network has not bought the rights for the race, but is instead in a partnership with race owners, the Victorian Racing Club.

It will see Twitter carry a specially-produced hour-long live show created by Seven and commissioned the VRC which will be streamed globally to both its “logged in and logged out audience”.

While that show will not include Seven’s commercial breaks it will carry ads from sponsors, with Sportsbet and AAMI already signed on. The deal has been struck as a revenue share between Seven and Twitter, although both have declined to disclose the terms of the split.

However, the stream will be up against Seven’s own live stream of its telecast, which it trialled last year and claimed achieved 300,000 ‘concurrent live streams’.

Twitter will be hoping to add users with the partnership

Twitter will be hoping to add users with the partnership

Despite providing ratings results for its NFL coverage Twitter has said it will not be revealing the size of its audience for the Melbourne Cup, a move which will add fuel to the fire of critics of transparency around digital metrics.

The digital stream will also face the same issues of lag which have hit Optus’ coverage of the English Premier League and angered viewers who have had their experience ruined, ironically, by using social media concurrently.

On top of the race broadcast Twitter will also have specially-produced short videos of what is happening around the carnival, including videos from inside the Birdcage, as part of a special Blue Room activation.

Nick Addison, VRC executive general manager of Commercial Operations, said: “By leveraging the power of Twitter’s enormous real-time platform for reaction, commentary, analysis, and more, this partnership will provide viewers the opportunity to watch Seven Network’s exceptional production and interact with the action on and off the track as it happens live on smartphones, tablets and computers.”

Twitter will be hoping the event provides a proof of concept for its live streaming service, which it is pushing hard as a way to monetise its audience on the platform. It will also be hoping to add users on the back of it, with its audience growth in Australia understood to be stagnant.


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