Twitter experiments with ‘TV Timelines’ for a strategic move

By | March 13, 2015

Twitter is in verge of unveiling a bold TV experiment and if it succeeds, it could change the face of second-screen viewing – at least that is what Twitter feels. It quite fits in as social media ha, for past five year or so, been an advocate of change for TV.

Twitter TV timlines

The way people watch TV has changed over time. The conversation once people use to have in their living rooms about soaps like The Bachelor, Gossip Girl, The Academy Awards, etc., have moved to social medias and messengers.

A recent study by Nielson says that at least 15% of TV viewers enjoy TV more “when social media is involved.” Nielson notes, they are also still watching live TV. Adults watch more than five hours of live TV per day. Users while watching live TV use social media to engage, react and discuss.

On Twitter, these interactions are managed with hashtags. For instance to follow all the conversations revolving around WorldCup 2015 matches, users use CWC2015 in tweets and watch for tweets containing the hashtag. Savvier Twitter users employ Twitter dashboards to track all the activity around the hashtags. Tools like TweetDeck and HootSuite and put all related tweets in a single column, while leaving other columns, Notifications, your general Twitter stream, Discovery, untouched.

Twitter’s traditional homepage has always been little used in this quest to have the ultimate second-screen experience. But this Twitter TV Timelines experiment could change all that — at least for mobile. Sorry, there’s no indication this experiment is running on Twitter for desktop.

The concept is fairly simple. Twitter sees the user using a TV show-related hashtag, a character’s name, even a key phrase from one of a handful of designated shows. For this experiment it’s American Idol, Big Bang Theory, @Midnight and The Blacklist, on the list. A dialogue-box pops up on iPhone Twitter Timeline (at the top) and invites to try out Twitter TV Timelines. If the user accept, he will see a very unusual Twitter interface.


The interface of TweetDeck is partitioned into three columns or panes that one can swipe through – Highlights, Media and all. This organization not only simplifies to track conversations moving around but also shows highlights and key media eradicating the unnecessary noises The advantage of this is one can just focus on one show ignoring the rest. Naturally, tweet built while on TV Timeline automatically include the show hash tag.

The experiment is at the early stage and is unlikely to find anything special yet. One good thing for users is that there are no ads in the TV Timeline for now, but may change later. When compared with Facebook, its obvious Facebook is winning. But it is not wise to compare Facebook and Twitter as they follow two different strategies on social media. But Twitter TV experiment makes one wonder if Facebook will respond soon with its own set of TV second screen viewing tools.

Twitter is not commenting anything publicly on the experiment, though it’s obvious that serving as a better second-screen partner is a strategic move.