Twitter users soon will be able to see — rather than just read about — more hail Marys, big air, and golden goals. ESPN said today it is broadening its ties to the 140-character world, making ad-embedded clips of several major events available on Twitter and mobile devices, creating yet another potential revenue stream. The sports behemoth becomes the latest TV entity to get cozier with the site as video becomes a bigger part of the twitterverse. Last month, Twitter was said to be holding talks with Viacom and NBCUniversal about hosting clips from those companies’ shows, and BBC America tweeted a few weeks back that it had signed up for the first “in-Tweet branded video synced to entertainment TV series.” The Disney-run “Worldwide Leader in Sports,” as it brands itself, soon will make the clips available on Twitter and mobile devices shortly after they happen live on-air. Expect video from NCAA football, the X Games and action from the pitch during the run-up to next year’s soccer World Cup. The net will detail its plans during its upfront Tuesday in New York.
The net is looking ahead as it braces for the launch of Fox Sports 1, News Corp’s competing 24-hour sports entity that’s slated to go live in August, and deals with grumbling from subscription TV providers over its hefty carriage fee. This Twitter news comes days after Sen. John McCain introduced a bill that would allow cable and satellite TV customers to buy channels on an a la carte basis rather than bundled channels, a move that could gut the industry’s long-held business model. On Monday, McCain called out ESPN by name during an interview on CNBC. “I think it’s wrong for people who do not enjoy some forms of entertainment to have to pay for that,” he told the host on Closing Bell With Maria Bartiromo. “And of course the most egregious example of that is ESPN. People who don’t want to watch ESPN … shouldn’t have to pay $4.69 additional a month for no reason.” The 2008 GOP presidential nominee couched his remarks, however, by saying he watches ESPN “all the time, being a sports nut.”