Will You, Brands Or Big Media Be The Star Of Snapchat TV?

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In the past few months, we’ve seen major heavyweights come into Snapchat with some big announcements.

Both Vice and MGM have inked deals with Snapchat to develop original programming, specific to the Snapchat environment. Many think this is just the beginning for broadcasting brands, and how they approach the concept of mobile TV. Apparently, just watching your regular TV shows, Netflix or whatever on your iPhone is not enough. Now, totally original content from massive Hollywood studios are being rethunk for the industry executives who see Snapchat as the future.

What are we expected to watch on Snapchat?

According to the article, Snapchat inks deal with MGM to develop original programming as it ramps up mobile TV offering, from The Drum: “The standalone programming will tell ‘a complete narrative’ in four to five minutes and shows will be shot with Snapchat’s predominantly young audience in mind.” These “shows” will appear in Snapchat’s Discovery section for publishers and these MGM and Vice deals are just the beginning. Like you, I would be curious as to what these major entertainment and media companies feel can be done uniquely in this platform? Why can’t new and complete narratives produced in four to five minute segments not be perfect for YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, or the brand’s own web and mobile platforms? Will this mean that legacy media brands will make their way on to Snapchat? Does it means that they may reboot some classic brands for this format? Will it be all new content? According to The Drum article: 

“…the deal will include concepts that are both new IP, as well as existing IP that are ‘reimagined for a whole new audience,’ and that shows are being developed for a wide range of formats, including documentaries, reality TV, scripted and unscripted, comedies and dramas.”

Anything tangible to talk about here? Any real examples?

When MGM was pressed to explain what, exactly, this could look like on Snapchat, their President of Unscripted Television (this is his title… and I’m guessing that they just did not like the term “reality tv” in their title) said: “The team at Snap is thinking about mobile TV differently than anyone else in this space. They are innovators, and it presents us with a unique opportunity to flex our development and production muscle in a whole new way… We are excited to create content for their vast and hard to reach audience that consumes entertainment in a very specific fashion.” 

That tough to reach audience.

This will be the biggest challenge. It seems obvious enough how these deals come together. It’s a simple recipe that we’ve seen countless times over the past few decades.

  • Take one part traditional media empire with ample catalogue. 
  • Take one part new, hip, shiny, bright object that is struggling to find a solid long-term revenue and growth strategy. 
  • Dash in an advertising revenue share model. 
  • Bake with Madison Ave. 
  • Let it sit for a couple of months.

Now let’s see who comes to the table for seconds.

At first blush, this recipe might sound obvious, but let’s dig a little deeper: Traditional media feel like they have lost this younger generation. As these non-regular television habits get formed, young people may never develop the same TV habits that generations before them had. “Get ’em while they’re young,” is how most brands think about longevity, whether they’re selling mobile phones or chequing accounts. Habitually, we have a different young television consumer. Netflix sits side-by-side with standard programming, PVR functionality for time-shifting (which is starting to dwindle as streaming takes hold) and ad-skipping is pervasive (and base functionalities for all TV viewing today), while YouTube is right there too. Plus, plunking down in front of the 48 inch flat screen is no longer something valued over simply watching clips on a smartphone. In short, it’s not just what’s on the screen… the screen is pervasive and as prevalent in their lives as the pockets on their jeans. TV is no longer a destination. TV is no longer a destination with a set day and time. TV is another form of video content in a myriad of video content choices that are accessible in this one screen, mobile-first world.

This is about much more than reaching the Snapchat audience.

Perhaps, this is much more about branding than anything else? If these traditional major entertainment and media studios no longer have an audience that cares about how their content is consumed, but just wants access to anything, the play for these studios changes in a most disruptive way. Again, this truly diminishes the standard narrartives that we have read about digital transformation in the media business (how do they digitize and embrace this technology faster without a startup killing them?). Now, it’s about brand. These studios have access to brands that have had major value in the past (and present). How do they ensure the brand value moving forward? The future of their brands must be anywhere where anyone might want to engage with it. Not easy.

Imagine that: the 800 pound gorillas looking for their next banana on whatever platform has the attention… even if it’s not the one they intended it for.