With Comcast Partnership, Twitter Becomes A Social TV Remote

Comcast's new "See It" button lets viewers change the channel, watch online, set a recording, and even buy movie tickets directly from Twitter.

TV and Twitter are getting more intertwined. Comcast on Wednesday debuted a See It button that will be embedded on Twitter allowing subscribers to record and watch shows directly from the social network. The beta feature, part of a strategic partnership between the cable operator and Twitter, will launch in November with shows on NBCUniversal's networks (Comcast owns the media company) and will extend to other networks and video distributors as early as the end of the year.

With more and more conversations about TV shows happening on Twitter, the partnership gives viewers the ability to take social TV to another level. "Our perception is there are two domains within the entertainment ecosystem: There's the social conversation and the consumption part. Right now, they're not linked," chief business development officer Sam Schwartz told Fast Company. "Part of what we're trying to do at Comcast is give customers the tools to discover content they're already paying for."

When the feature rolls out, viewers will notice a button for See It at the bottom of shows' tweet. Clicking on it will give them two options: Comcast subscribers can log in to control their set-top boxes while nonsubscribers are given options to view on other websites, such as Hulu, ABC, NBC, and HBO Go. "We want to have something for everyone," Schwartz said. To help all viewers discover live television, the plan is to roll out the button to other networks, distributors, and programmers.

Those who pay for Comcast cable service are presented a list of options that, in essence, turn Twitter into a social remote. From Twitter, subscribers can change the channel on their set-top boxes to watch live or on demand, view the show online or on a mobile device, set a recording, and set a reminder. Though it won't be available at launch, integration with Fandango, a Comcast property, will also let subscribers buy movie tickets with the See It button in the future.

Comcast and Twitter began talks around See It about a year ago. "Given their recent interest in playing a bigger role in TV, it's something that resonated with them," Schwartz said. The technology behind the button has its roots in an app Comcast developed about four years ago that viewers used to control the set-top box. Schwartz says the hope is to integrate the See It button "anyplace people are reading about or chatting about entertainment," such as IMBD and entertainment news sites. Developers can enable the button by embedding a small invisible tag on a show's website, and when Twitter detects the tag, it will automatically add the button to tweets linking to such sites. Comcast will also work with distributors to integrate their APIs so non-Comcast subscribers can also control their set-top boxes from Twitter.

The Comcast-Twitter partnership extends beyond See It. The two companies also announced an advertising partnership on Twitter's Amplify program that embeds sponsored real-time video clips in tweets.

[Image: Flickr user espensorvik]

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