Snap’s recent US$24bn IPO generated a wave of headlines, as did NBCUniversal (NBCU)’s whopping US$500m investment in the company. Many might wonder what the US studio sees in the California-based start-up behind social messaging service Snapchat, but the latter’s gradual evolution into a media powerhouse offers plenty of clues.
The dynamic and engaging platform continues to grow in popularity and is embraced by millennials especially, a hard-to-reach generation that gradually shifts its attention from TV to mobile.
Not surprisingly then, Snap is pushing into TV territory by filling the platform with original video programming. An important part of this ambitious move is partnerships with producers and networks. By now, almost every major media company has deals with Snap to develop content exclusively for Snapchat.
We put together a selection of these original Snapchat shows and channels by broadcasters, which perhaps represent the next generation of mobile TV and demonstrate why Snapchat begins to feel a lot like TV. But this article also includes case studies of broadcasters and content producers using Snapchat’s features beyond the Discover section to engage and build audiences in innovative ways. These examples aim to provide inspiration that goes beyond the standard behind-the-scenes insights and Q&As for which many channels and shows use Snapchat.
NBCUniversal – The Voice, E! News The Rundown, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, SNL
NBCUniversal has launched four Snapchat shows so far, with more to follow
NBCU’s investment in Snap is the next milestone in the company’s ongoing partnership with the firm. In August 2016, the pair signed a multi-year content and advertising deal under which NBCU created several original shows for the platform that serve as brand and format extensions to their TV shows.
Snapchat series include The Voice on Snapchat, a five-episode version of the singing competition that ran alongside the TV show and saw the coaches reviewing video submissions and picking singers for their teams. Jimmy Fallon’s late-night show got a Snapchat spin-off as well, and so did Saturday Night Live, which regularly produces digital “SNL Stories” shorts that are optimized for vertical video.
Finally, NBCU-owned E! debuted the Snapchat-exclusive pop culture news show The Rundown last September. Hosted by E! News correspondent Erin Lim, the five-minute episodes are a hit among Snapchat’s millennial user base, with viewership soaring 82% since the debut and 75% of viewers returning on a weekly basis.
With these and more upcoming Snapchat shows, NBCU drives its digital growth strategically and reaches the massive young audience that considers mobile, rather than traditional TV, their go-to medium.
E! – #KardashiansWereHere Custom Geofilters
E! dropped custom Kardashians Snapchat filters in locations associated with the reality show
Launching branded Snapchat filters for new movies, TV shows and music has become quite common. Some broadcasters added a twist to their filters by making them strictly location-based and available only at specific, key locations related to their series. One example is E!’s Snapchat launch campaign for season 12 of Keeping Up With The Kardashians.
At the end of April 2016, E! launched a total of 10 series-themed geofilters that were available exclusively at locations directly associated with the series. Boosting excitement by sending fans on a kind of scavenger hunt is a great mobile marketing idea and a unique way for fans to engage with shows by following in the footsteps of their favorite characters/celebrities.
Viacom – Original MTV and Comedy Central content
In February last year, Viacom and Snap announced a global partnership that brings premium video to Snapchat Discover channels in the US and globally.
Viacom runs both US-centric and international MTV and Comedy Central channels on Discover, for which they also produce original series. Notable is MTV International’s Snapchat Discover line-up, which premiered last autumn and included three series with eight to 10 episodes varying from three to five minutes each.
MTV International’s Snapchat shows include a shortform gameshow with Geordie Shore star Charlotte Crosby
“Show Us Ur Phone” is a shortform gameshow in which Geordie Shore star Charlotte Crosby approaches couples on the street and quizzes them about the content on each other’s phones. In “MTV Sex Squad”, vlogger Grace Victory discusses sex-related topics with alternating special guests. And “MTV Threads” is a fashion- and style-focused show that features Becca Dudley and celebrity guests discussing wardrobes and style secrets.
Viacom being this active on Snapchat is no surprise and actually a natural fit, since both companies speak to the same millennial audience and therefore mutually benefit from the partnership.
PBS – POV Snapchat Documentary Films
POV and NowThis were the first to bring independent documentaries to Snapchat Discover
In October 2016, PBS’s acclaimed documentary series POV and shortform digital content creator NowThis launched two Snapchat-native documentary films. Both six-minute films ran exclusively for 24 hours on the Snapchat Discover channel of NowThis Media. Titled We’ll Still Be Here, the first film followed a group of dominoes players in Brooklyn trying to keep their beloved game alive in a changing world. The second, The Way It Should Be, told the stories of a group of lesbian women of color in New York City.
The films were the first documentaries created specifically for Snapchat and provided the creators with an interesting way to tell stories and reach a new audience for POV.
BBC America – Planet Earth II Mini-Episodes
The Planet Earth II Snapchat show promoted the BBC TV series
One day before Planet Earth II premiered on BBC America in February 2017, the BBC and Snap released the first of six mini-episodes of the nature documentary series via Snapchat’s Discover section. The episodes lasted four to six minutes and were released weekly.
Available exclusively to users in the US and Canada, the Snapchat show covered the same topics as the TV series – deserts, cities, islands, grasslands, jungles and mountains – with previously unreleased footage. The episodes were optimised for vertical viewing and featured binaural audio.
Distributing the show via the platform was a great move and marketing tool that probably helped broaden the audience for the show.
Funk – iam.serafina
iam.serafina was the world’s first Snapchat soap
On October 2, 2016, 19-year-old Snapchat addict Serafina started sharing her life with her followers over the course of 14 days. “iam.serafina”, from German youth-oriented digital content network Funk was the world’s first scripted daily soap on Snapchat.
Viewers witnessed her daily ups and downs live and in real-time. The series blurred the boundaries of documentary and fiction as spontaneous, real events and users’ reactions were often quickly included in the story.
Due to the soap’s format and way of storytelling, viewers felt closer to protagonist Serafina than any regular soap opera on TV would allow. On March 1, funk premiered the second season of iam.serafina, which is now told on even more platforms over the course of four weeks.
Netflix France – #NetflixSwap & #NetflixNStick
In late April and early May 2016, Netflix France and creative agency Darewin found an amazing way to leverage Snapchat’s face-swap feature, which was still new back then.
The companies created an interactive outdoor ad campaign that allowed Netflix fans across France to swap faces with their favorite characters from Netflix Originals such as House of Cards, Orange Is The New Black and Narcos.
The posters with the Netflix characters were strategically placed at popular locations and tourist attractions in Paris, Lyon, Marseilles and Montpellier.
The #NetflixSwap outdoor campaign let fans become their favorite characters
The campaign quickly took off, with media outlets around the world writing about the #NetflixSwap and thousands of French fans becoming their favorite Netflix heroes.
Roughly one year later, Netflix France came up with another unprecedented way to engage fans. In February 2017, it again leveraged a new Snapchat feature – the Scissors tool – and partnered with creative agency MNSTR to display billboards with the faces of Netflix characters in heavy traffic areas across France.
Netflix France’s second outdoor campaign allowed fans to pimp their Snapchat stories with stickers of Netflix characters
The posters invited passers-by to create their own Snapchat stickers of Netflix characters by snapping a pic and cutting out the heads using Scissors.
In addition to the outdoor posters, French superfans and influencers received personalized posters that let them create stickers of Netflix characters and themselves.
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