Details Unveiled For Twitter’s Native Video Player To Rival YouTube? [Update]

Update: A Twitter spokesperson tells us that the FAQ and terms are in reference to promoted video services for Amplify users, not the new video player that it plans to launch for consumers in the first half of 2015. Another spokesperson says there is nothing new to share at this time. Original article below.

Back in November 2014, Twitter announced that it would be launching a native video service in the first half of 2015 as part of its bigger strategy to position itself as a media platform. Now some more details have been uncovered about how this will work.

The Twitter Video Player will host videos of up to 10 minutes with no limit on file size, initially supporting mp4 and mov files. There will be no ability to edit videos or schedule them within the player — at least in its first iteration. And, pointedly, the Twitter Video Player will not support videos hosted on YouTube or anywhere else, just those on its own service.

The details of Twitter’s native video service were stumbled on by a Twitter user noodling around, curious about what might live at the URL. (It’s a restricted access page for now where you can request access to publish video content.) An angular JS file provides details about both the terms of service as well as a FAQ about Twitter Video.

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Back in November, Twitter set out its ambitions for what it wanted out of a new video service — beyond that of what users can already do with Twitter’s Vine app, or by watching videos embedded by way of Twitter’s card feature.

“Aside from just watching video more easily on Twitter, you should be able to record, edit and share your own videos natively on Twitter too,” wrote Kevin Weil, VP of product. “Alongside short looping Vine videos, we think you’ll have fun sharing what’s happening in your world through native video.”

While the Twitter Video Player may be used by advertisers or other commercial partners, for example, Twitter will not allow third parties to sell access to the Video Player, or to embed other advertisements, sponsorships, or promotions on it.

Users will have some control over how the video is presented to users in timelines by way of a customised thumbnail. And it looks like while the time limit is 10 minutes, Twitter is hoping for those to be a quality 10 minutes.

In answer to whether there is a video size limit, Twitter writes, “At this time we do not have a file size limit when uploading. As such, we are encouraging partners to use the highest resolution source video, to create the most optimal user experience. However, keep in mind that the larger the source file, the longer it will take to upload and process.” It encourages users to make the source video bitrate as high as possible, “at least 5000k bits, and the audio bitrate should be 128k. Frames per second should be preserved as per the original source material.”

Videos will, of course, be Tweetable from the Video Player’s dashboard, but scheduling will not be possible “at this time.” With an eye to commercial partners’ use of the tool, Twitter notes that those video Tweets “can either be sent immediately to all followers, or can be hidden from your followers and used as part of a Twitter advertising campaign.”

The move to expand Twitter’s video offerings comes at an interesting time for the company, and for the wider market for streamed video. For Twitter, the company has been pushing hard to find formats that bring both more viewers, and more premium advertisers, to its platform. Video has proven to be one of the more attractive formats for keeping users engaged on sites for longer, and it’s also an advertising format that’s far closer to TV than regular internet content — thereby appearing more attractive to premium brand advertisers that have traditionally favored TV for the majority of their ad spend.

The very biggest player of all in online video today is YouTube, which itself is experimenting with various formats to widen the variety of video services that it offers to users and advertisers — from GIF creation (watch out, Vine) to autoplay videos (to mimic TV viewing). By launching its own native video player, Twitter is also hoping to get a cut of that activity, too.

The decision to forbid use of YouTube videos is an interesting one, and points to how Twitter is hoping to build up its own video inventory — making ads alongside those videos far more commercially lucrative, and positioning Twitter much more as a platform in its own right.
“In order to provide the best experience for the user we require that all videos be uploaded and hosted by Twitter. The same video that was uploaded to YouTube can also be uploaded to Twitter, but you cannot reuse the YouTube URL with the Twitter video player,” Twitter notes. Similarly, those who use other video players are encourages to use Player Cards.
Without seeing the video player itself, it’s hard to say whether it will be attractive enough to lure users to it rather than simply embedding videos by way of cards. It seems like Twitter will be trying to sweeten the pot for those posting videos to use its own Video Player. Specifically, it will be offering users analytics on how those videos, tracking things like video starts and quartile completion rates (tracking whether people have watched 25%, 50%, 75% or 100% of the content).