Twitter has become a part of daily life for millions of users across the globe, often in ways that nobody really expected when the service first became available to the public. It has been instrumental in helping people in countries such as Egypt get word out about attempts to change the political climate. In areas affected by natural disasters, Twitter is a way to find out if loved ones are safe when landlines are down or when network traffic makes it hard to place a call from a mobile phone. Now, the social media service is about to help people do something entirely different: buy movie tickets.
For as long as Twitter has been around, the people who developed it have been trying to figure out ways to monetize the service, which is available to the public for free. The placement of ads, though an unpopular choice with users, has been discussed quite a bit as a possible way to make money. Using the service to buy products from online retailers is another way that Twitter could possibly make money, though movie tickets had never really been a part of that discussion until October 2013, when the service sent out a press release announcing a new partnership with NBCUniversal and Fandango.
The press release said that Twitter has partnered up with NBCUniversal in an attempt to help Twitter turn users' smart phones into remote controls of sorts. Whenever users read their stream, if someone they follow posts about a movie or television show, a "See It" button will appear alongside the tweet. Users who press the button will then have their television switched to the channel showing that program, allowing them to watch it instantly. The press release goes on to give further details about how this unique service would work. It isn't until much further down the page that the ability to buy movie tickets is announced, though not much information is given about this part of the partnership.
What little is known right now is that the same "See It" button will allow users to purchase tickets from Fandango for films that either are already in theaters or will be in theaters soon. This means that if a film's official Twitter account or perhaps one of the stars of the film tweets about the movie, pressing the button next to that tweet will automatically redirect users to the Fandango website, where they will be able to buy one or more tickets to see the film.
Some of the new features of this partnership that are mentioned in the press release will be functional as soon as mid-October 2013, though a few will be held back until November or December 2013, and a few more will not roll out until sometime in early 2014. Though no exact date has yet been set, the part of the partnership that allows Twitter users to buy tickets through Fandango is expected to be introduced sometime in November 2013, just in time for the big holiday movie season.
The big question now is whether Twitter users will actually use this new functionality or it will be a bust. It's impossible to tell yet whether users will make use of the new button, at least not until they can try it out for themselves. Moviegoers already have ways to buy tickets online; this new Twitter button simply provides one more option to do so in a way that may be faster and more convenient than others. Film studios will have a chance to encourage use of the new button by heavily promoting it. Incentives could also entice users to buy through the button, though no studios have indicated that they have plans to try this yet. Most are in a wait-and-see mode, where they will sit back and see how many people use the button before deciding what steps to take next. Those next steps will largely be based on how many people use the new service without being prompted to.
This is a new and exciting frontier for Twitter, which incredibly has only been around since 2006. With its exponential growth and use as a news feed and announcement platform of sorts, selling movie tickets seems like a logical next step. Will the ability to buy a movie on demand or purchase a Blu-ray or DVD through Twitter be coming any time soon? Only time will tell.