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Fox, Twitter join in promotional partnership

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Fox and Twitter have entered into a partnership to promote the broadcaster's programs and allow advertisers a way to reach TV audiences as they discuss the shows on the social network.

In an announcement Monday timed to coincide with its upfront presentation to advertisers and media buyers in New York City, Fox said it would use Twitter to distribute clips of upcoming TV shows, tout highlights of live events or share video after episodes of various shows have aired. 

Brand marketers would use Twitter's advertising platform to promote this network content. 

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"Social media is a fantastic complement to compelling, live television content," said Toby Byrne, president of advertising for Fox Broadcasting Co. "Not only is it a great marketing tool for us, but it serves as the new water cooler for the most engaged fans ... so that opens up additional ways for us to connect brands with our audience."

Television network executives recognize that social media have become the new digital hearth, where a show's most devoted viewers gather to share their views, glean insights from its creator or get behind-the-scenes glimpses from its stars.

Fox, for example, used Twitter voting in the first season of "The X Factor" music competition. This year, it allowed viewers of "American Idol" to weigh in on certain elements of the show using Twitter hashtags. The results were displayed in real-time on the television screen.

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Twitter has been working with TV showrunners -- those executives responsible for all creative aspects of a show -- actors and digital executives to help them use tweets to get viewers to tune in to a show, or to build loyalty for a program. 

"We think Twitter is the ultimate complement to TV -- we call it the soundtrack to TV," said Chloe Sladden, Twitter's head of media. "Twitter and TV are such a well-made match, it is becoming more and more essential to the experience of watching TV for fans."

The partnership allows Fox to tap into a new revenue stream and distribution channel, even as Twitter benefits from the promotional tweets. Brands, meanwhile, can reach consumers as they carry on conversations about a show on the social network.

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Brian Blau of technology research company Gartner Inc. said Twitter has established itself as the front-runner when it comes to bringing television-related experiences to smartphones and tablets, which the industry refers to as the "second screen."

“Twitter is generally thought of as the second TV channel," said Blau, the company's research director in consumer technologies. "It’s where you go to talk about your favorite TV shows. It’s not the only online community that does that, but Twitter is where most of the conversation about what’s happening on live TV is taking place.”

He said the partnership with Twitter will allow Fox and its advertisers to follow its consumers across media platforms.

“It’s almost one-stop shopping," he said. "Advertisers can better coordinate campaigns and reach different audiences. The advertising dollar is going to go a little bit farther and have a little bit more meaning.”

Fox said it plans to start using the Twitter promotions this summer and hopes to extend them to full broadcasting lineup this fall.

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