Twitter peeks at 360-degree video with Samsung campaign for NBA Finals

As Twitter gets closer to supporting 360-degree video, the NBA will tweet virtual reality-lite videos shot during the NBA Finals using a Samsung camera.

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Twitter has started to take a look at supporting 360-degree videos on its service, like YouTube and Facebook already do.

On Thursday night, the NBA will post 360-degree videos to its Twitter account through a sponsorship deal with Samsung struck through Twitter’s Amplify video ad program. The videos will be shot before and after Game 1 of the NBA Finals using a Samsung Gear 360 camera so that people can get an all-around look during the pregame shootaround and postgame activity.

The campaign marks the first Amplify deal that incorporates 360-degree video, as well as the first time premium-quality 360-degree video content has been distributed on Twitter, a Twitter spokesperson confirmed.

Samsung’s 360-degree video campaign with the NBA doesn’t mark the start of Twitter officially supporting 360-degree video on its service. It’s more like a test. That likely explains why people won’t actually be able to watch the campaign’s videos within Twitter, like they would on YouTube or Facebook. Instead, they’ll need to click on the video card, which will take them to a landing page — like this one — from which they can play the video. But it’d be surprising if Twitter doesn’t end up officially supporting the virtual reality-lite format.

Twitter has been trying to beef up digital video bona fides over the past couple of years. It has started letting people watch videos natively within Twitter’s site and app versus clicking to someone else’s site. It has introduced autoplay video ads. It has opened up a revenue-sharing program for some video creators to make money from the videos they post to Twitter. And it’s struck big content deals like its upcoming livestreams of the NFL’s Thursday Night Football games.

Now, 360-degree video support is becoming table stakes for large digital video services, like the one Twitter is trying to build. YouTube and Facebook already officially support 360-degree videos and video ads. Hulu has launched an app for Samsung’s Gear VR headset that lets people watch 360-degree videos. And even Netflix is taking a hard look at the format.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.

About the author

Tim Peterson
Tim Peterson, Third Door Media's Social Media Reporter, has been covering the digital marketing industry since 2011. He has reported for Advertising Age, Adweek and Direct Marketing News. A born-and-raised Angeleno who graduated from New York University, he currently lives in Los Angeles. He has broken stories on Snapchat's ad plans, Hulu founding CEO Jason Kilar's attempt to take on YouTube and the assemblage of Amazon's ad-tech stack; analyzed YouTube's programming strategy, Facebook's ad-tech ambitions and ad blocking's rise; and documented digital video's biggest annual event VidCon, BuzzFeed's branded video production process and Snapchat Discover's ad load six months after launch. He has also developed tools to monitor brands' early adoption of live-streaming apps, compare Yahoo's and Google's search designs and examine the NFL's YouTube and Facebook video strategies.

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