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Airtel Digital TV launches new Twitter-focused service

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Airtel Digital TV launches new Twitter-focused service
Airtel's DTH (direct to home) TV service, Airtel Digital TV, has launched a new service through which it will integrate popular social networking service, Twitter with other TV content.

Judging by Airtel's press statement, it appears to be a value added service that pulls tweets that feature a particular hash-tag (related to popular TV programmes, celebrities, sports personalities, among others) and displays them on the user's screen. The service is available on select TV channels and Airtel Digital TV Customers would need to press the green key on their set top box remote to enable and access the service.

Airtel informs that the service is powered by Brizz TV and will be available to all Airtel Digital TV customers across the country and with all set-top-box models. According to the Airtel press release, "Customers will also be able to tweet about their favourite TV shows, celebrities, sports/ sports personalities or any ongoing TV programme across channels while watching it. What's more....your Tweet will be broadcasted live and you can read your tweets on the TV screen along with the tweets of your favourite celebrities."

We wonder how Airtel plans to integrate the tweet sending, timeline viewing service with its current DTH setup. We believe that the service would not be able to offer users the ability to post tweets or even see their own timeline (as this requires sign-in), as satellite equipment offered by Airtel and other DTH providers doesn't feature the capability to send signals (and data) back to the satellite. Even accessing the Internet-based, video on demand or VoD content on high-end STBs requires users to connect them to a broadband connection. So, it's most likely just a hashtag filtered broadcast of tweets related to a particular topic.

Update: Airtel has clarified that it's a one-way broadcast service, and deosn't allow users to post tweets through their set-top-box. Airtel will also filter out offensive tweets.

Announcing the launch of the service, Shashi Arora, CEO - Airtel Digital TV said, "Twitter on Airtel Digital TV is an innovative product launched as part of our continuous efforts to enrich the lives of our customers. Given the ever increasing popularity of Twitter across the globe with over 500 million Tweets generated every day including breaking news and first reactions which trend within minutes of its occurrence, all our customers will now be a part of the convergence phenomenon along with the rest of the world."

Airtel's new service intends to offer an integrated Twitter plus TV experience at a time when broadcasters are increasingly moving to social media to track conversations and engagement around shows. It may also enable Twitter to get more users who watch TV onto the network.

Jana Messerschmidt, Vice President, Business Development & Platform, Twitter added, "Twitter is public, real time and conversational, which makes it a perfect companion to television viewing. We are excited to see partners like Airtel innovating with our platform and helping their audience connect with the TV programs they love."  

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Further reading: Airtel, Airtel Digital TV, Twitter
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