NBCU’s BuzzFeed Launches Rio Olympics Snapchat Channel

At the Rio Olympics, a dozen BuzzFeed employees are putting out a daily edition of Snapchat Discover, the first major collaboration since NBCUniversal invested $200 million in BuzzFeed last year. NBC Olympics president Gary Zenkel said it was an easy choice to give BuzzFeed the task of producing the daily Olympics Snapchat channel because of the company’s expertise is creating video for social networks. NBCUniversal has also given BuzzFeed “free rein” to create content that will engage Snapchat’s audience.

The Wall Street Journal quotes Andrew Gautheir, executive producer of BuzzFeed’s video unit, as saying that he’s “a little surprised with how much room they’ve given us to experiment, to try new things, to do things that are in execution pretty different from their coverage during the day and in primetime.”

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That includes the unit’s first Olympics piece, a quiz on “Can You Guess the Sport By the Athlete’s Butt.” Zenkel notes that, “There are certainly boundaries which we would not want them to cross, but good humor and using perhaps some language that has become part of the lexicon of the generation, we’re not going to restrict that.”

NBCUniversal paid $1.2 billion for the U.S. media rights to the Rio Games, and NBC notes that, “live streaming for the Rio Olympics had already surpassed live streaming for the entire London Games.” The BuzzFeed Olympics coverage includes “roundups of the day’s events (with highlights in GIF form), quirky video segments with athletes, graphics and lists.”

BuzzFeed supervising producer/head of the Snapchat team Zachary Gibson says, “overall, we’re really trying to keep NBC’s voice and not make it feel like a BuzzFeed rip-off channel.”

The Snapchat Olympic videos have had a BuzzFeed feel, however, with bits on the women’s wrestling team destroying watermelons, swimmer Natalie Coughlin testing out waterproof makeup, and readers asked to guess the abs of shirtless U.S. men’s gymnastics team members. NBCUniversal also just announced that it plans to debut original shows on Snapchat, such as “an E! Network news show and programming based on ‘The Voice’.”