So many media companies have been talking about pivoting to video that it has started to seem less like a savvy business move and more like a last-ditch effort to drum up some advertising dollars.
“Shows are an extension of traditional TV, not a replacement for it. Shows can help TV networks reach a new audience who many not be watching their linear programs. Building a core, loyal audience for our TV partners is critical to building their brand equity and a long-term, sustainable model for producing mobile TV,” a Snap Inc. spokeswoman explained.
A year ago, Snap introduced “Shows” to its Discover platform, where the TV-like episodes, produced by TV networks, joined magazine-like, publisher-friendly “Stories.” Shows, which run between three and five minutes and combine the playful visual language native to the platform with television-quality polish, can be taken from existing content or a new concept made specifically to run on the platform.
In July, Snap unveiled a partnership with NBC News on “Stay Tuned,” a twice-daily, news and entertainment program available on Snapchat’s discover platform. Each episode, hosted by Gadi Schwartz and Savannah Sellers, clocks in between two-and-a-half and three minutes. As evidence of its commitment to the endeavor, NBC News staffed up — hiring around 30 employees to work on the show.
And it isn’t just NBC News. ESPN, the NFL, ABC, BBC, A+E Networks, Discovery Networks, Turner, Scripps Networks, Vertical Networks, Vice, MGM Television and CBS are all getting in on the action, working to develop new shows and adapt regular-length shows for the short-form social network.
Turner and Conan O’Brien’s Team Coco are working on an animated comedy show for Snapchat, a new Snapchat show featuring actor James Corden is being developed with CBS, and Discover is producing a show that reimagines the ever-popular Shark Week franchise. Shows such as “The Voice,” “The Bachelor,” “SNL,” BBC’s “Planet Earth II” and MTV’s “Cribs” have all adapted their content for Snapchat.
But should networks pump money into the developing content for a platform that could end up being little more than a fad?
The jury is still out.
“It all depends on if the quality of the content is high and appropriate for the format,” explained Brian Wisner, an analyst at Pivotal Research Group who focuses on media, advertising and technology. “Is it possible it can be a programming idea that can be worth NBC’s time? Sure. But a bigger problem to be mindful of is that for Snap, it’s not at all clear if even if it’s a successful consumer proposition, it’s not at all clear if it will be successful for Snap. The economics might be unserviceable.”
On the other hand, it’s probably worth the risk.
“After a year, if it isn’t working, you wind it up and chalk it up to R&D development,” Wisner said.