FORTUNE -- Can a social network once entirely conceived around 140-character real-time updates transform itself into a multimedia hub? Twitter seems intent on trying.
Bloomberg reported this week that Twitter is in final negotiations with networks like Viacom (VIAB) and Comcast's (CMCSA) NBCUniversal that could let the social network distribute TV clips and sell ads alongside them.
Over the last 12 months, Twitter has made some bold moves -- acquiring startups, releasing new features, and reportedly working on TV deals, leaving small hints as to what it's up to. Analysts agree: The social network is gunning to become a full-featured media platform.
"That's what it's going for long-term, but short-term, it's a communication conduit where information flows through, kind of like a protocol of information," explains Jeremiah Owyang, a partner with the San Mateo, Calif.-based Altimeter Group, a research and advisory firm. "They want to be more than that. They want media content to flow on top of it and to share on top of it. They want to be more than that throughway because they want to monetize that as well."
With over 200 million monthly active users tapping out over 400 million Tweets daily, the social network has grown exponentially since Jack Dorsey founded the company seven years ago. And its primary revenue generator, advertising, is expected to generate $583 million this year and nearly $1 billion in 2014 according to eMarketer.
Those might seem like solid, though not stellar, numbers when stacked -- perhaps unfairly -- against Facebook (FB), whose revenues are also driven by ad products. According to Topeka Capital Markets, Facebook will book $6.5 billion in sales this year and $8.4 billion in 2014. While Twitter and Facebook offer vastly different user experiences, for Twitter, there are clearly more revenue stream opportunities to explore.
Which is why Twitter has been so aggressive recently. Last March, it launched the six-second video-sharing app Vine; this weekend, the company could launch its rumored music service. It also introduced new features like photo filters -- this time offered by Twitter rather than Instagram -- and Twitter Cards, so developers can have more information appear when a user, say, Tweets a link to a web story. Along the way, it bought startups like the music discovery service We Are Hunted and Bluefin Labs, which analyzes online chatter about TV shows.
Twitter's success hinges on a simple, but often overlooked, principle: It must adhere to its inherent strengths -- and avoid the temptation of overextending itself. Twitter's 200 million-strong users flock to it for what Altimeter's Owyang calls "micro media content," morsels of information distributed real-time, whether it's news of Beyonce's pregnancy or riots in Egypt. Twitter uses are not flocking to the site to view feature-length films. Movie studios first tried that out a few years ago on Facebook, but it doesn't seem to have picked up much steam. (When was the last time you or a friend sat and watched a two-hour movie on the social network?)
When Twitter offers more media on its site -- and not as a standalone product -- it should remember why users go there in the first place. "I could see some new form of content that's wholly consumed on Twitter," admits Gartner analyst Mike McGuire. "But I don't know about the 22-minute sitcom we're used to seeing on TV, the hour-long drama, or the two-hour movie." Chances are, they'll be hunting for a teaser or a clip, and not the full package.
Drivers Ed for Copyright violations.
In a move to thwart copyright violations on its YouTube Subsidiary, Google (GOOG) has instituted a new Copyright Violations Schooling program along with new policies for users who are found to have violated YouTube's copyright rules.
It is probably exactly what you expect: When YouTube gets a report of a copyright violation, the video is removed and the uploader has to watch the "school" video below, which goes into detail MORESeth Weintraub - Apr 14, 2011 5:53 PM ET
OK, that one really hurt.
I'd say about half of my TV watching is the Daily Show and the Colbert Report on Comedy Central (I've also been known to enjoy the occasional South Park). Until this weekend, I could do so on my GoogleTV.
As of last night, Viacom unceremoniously pulled their content from GoogleTV. That includes the aforementioned Comedy Central, MTV Networks/VH1 and, sadly for my kid, Nickelodeon. Luckily, PBS Kids has a special site MORESeth Weintraub - Nov 22, 2010 3:53 AM ET
When the cable providers and the companies providing the shows fight over fees -- as Cablevision and News Corp currently are -- the viewers lose. But those who enjoy their business bare knuckled definitely win.
As the "Cablevision vs. News Corp." feud escalates, more than three million subscribers remain without Fox programming. Cablevision blames News Corp. for demanding an extortionate increase in retransmission fees; News Corp. argues Cablevision isn't negotiating MOREJP Mangalindan, Writer - Oct 18, 2010 1:26 PM ET
It's Amazon vs. Apple, according to the latest reports, with Netflix in the middle
Tuesday was busy day as two of the biggest names in online retail -- Apple (AAPL) and Amazon (AMZN) -- jockeyed for position in the fast-evolving market for Internet-based television.
Both have been actively courting the major studios, including NBC Universal (GE), Time Warner (TWX), News Corp. (NWS) and Viacom (VIA-B), each for a different reason. Apple has MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Aug 31, 2010 7:51 PM ET
I'll be sad to no longer see those embarrassing documents coming out of the court proceedings. Here's a recap.
"YouTube wins its case against Viacom" or "The Court Ruling" either way, it was a serious case involving billions of dollars...but it was also quite entertaining to read the details.
Jon Stewart on Viacom subsidiary Comedy Central does the backstory.
The news is good for YouTube and the people who like to share their videos. It's MORESeth Weintraub - Jun 25, 2010 12:22 AM ET
News Corp. vs Cablevision. Cablevision vs. Disney. The list goes on and on. An updated tally of cable licensing deals gone horribly awry.
As the Cablevision and News Corp. feud continues, more than three million subscribers remain without Fox programming. Cablevision blames News Corp. for demanding an extortionate increase in retransmission fees; News Corp. argues Cablevision isn't negotiating in good faith. Regardless of which party is at fault, the cable MOREJP Mangalindan, Writer - Jun 3, 2010 11:41 AM ET
In the battle over home video distribution, the Hollywood studios may finally be realizing they have to give up some control, or risk losing millions.
Earlier this month, Disney (DIS) announced that it is renewing its licensing agreement with Starz Entertainment, giving the premium movie provider behind the Starz and Encore movie channels exclusive pay-TV rights to show content from Walt Disney Studios.
But this deal was a little different than MOREJessica Shambora, Writer-Reporter - Mar 21, 2010 11:16 PM ET
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