Over the past few months, Snapchat has lined up a slew of TV networks to create exclusive content for its Shows platform, such as A+E Networks, Discovery, ESPN, NBCUniversal and Turner (owner of CNN, TBS and TNT). According to The Wall Street Journal, Snapchat is also in talks with CBS and Fox, two of the biggest players in the TV industry. It's an ambitious effort, and Snapchat appears confident that it has the perfect formula for viable mobile-first, short-form video programming.
NBCUniversal, which invested $500 million as part of Snap's IPO in May, was one of the first networks to put the potential of Snapchat Shows on display. The company, like many other traditional media outlets, craves the young demographic that live on Snapchat. Last July, NBCUniversal launched Stay Tuned, a twice-daily news show created from the ground up with Snapchat users in mind. The show features two- to five-minute episodes shot in portrait mode, the ideal format for watching on-the-go on a smartphone. It's complemented by bright, colorful imagery and large text overlays that are displayed as the host discusses the news of the day.
So far, NBCUniversal's bet seems to be paying off, with the network claiming the show has garnered more than 29 million viewers since its debut. That number, however, needs to be taken with a grain of salt. Snapchat does not disclose valuable metrics like user watch time and series retention stats, so it's hard to know what exactly qualifies as a "viewer." The company also doesn't disclose monthly active users, which is considered a key metric in determining user growth.
A spokesperson for Snapchat did not provide specific viewership numbers but did say that Stay Tuned has more than 4 million subscribers. That's rather small when you consider that Snapchat has 178 million daily active users. Snapchat told Engadget that networks find its platform appealing because they can connect with audiences different than those who watch traditional TV. According to Snap, more than 60 percent of the people who watch Stay Tuned are under 25 years old. And it's no secret that "millennials" are a highly coveted demographic, not just by media companies but fashion and tech brands, as well.
Stay Tuned on Snapchat.
ESPN, which is owned by Disney, is another network that recently launched a show on Snapchat. Last month, it announced a mobile-focused version of its flagship TV news program, SportsCenter, exclusively for Snapchat. It features many of the same traits seen on Stay Tuned: vertical scenes, large text overlays and GIFs. You'll also notice young hosts with upbeat personalities and casual outfits. ESPN and NBCUniversal are betting that they have a better chance connecting with Snapchat users than, say, 40- or 50-year-old anchors in suits.
An ESPN representative declined to share viewer stats for SportsCenter on Snapchat, citing Snap's reservation about releasing usage data to external parties. The spokesperson said numbers for the show are "very promising" since it launched last month, but noted that it's early and there's not enough data to quantify accurate regular behavior.