Snapchat Shows is exceeding Snap Inc.’s expectations, encouraging the company to focus on an ambitious expansion to the app’s 166 million daily global users. The first Snapchat Show launch, in January 2016, was an internal creation, “Good Luck America,” which has since averaged 5.2 million viewers per episode in its second season, a 53 percent surge from its first season. That popularity is emboldening a long list of celebrities and media entities to jump on board, among them Jimmy Fallon, James Corden, A&E and BBC.
According to Variety, Snapchat plans to “quadruple the number of shows already running on the platform each week from five to 20 by the end of the year.” It is widely believed that the company will “announce eventually that Snapchat Shows will get a section of its own inside Discover, the umbrella brand for the app’s content offerings (and no relation to the cable network).”
Conan O’Brien will also produce Snapchat Shows’ first animated series, and other content partners include Discovery Networks, which will offer a “Shark Week” extension this summer. NBC, which will launch the first daily news reports on Snapchat, is especially involved in Snapchat, having invested $500 million in its IPO. Describing the relationship as “a growing partnership,” NBC plans to bring more NBCU series to the platform.
Although Snapchat is generally considered a messaging tool, the company plans to make content more important, or, as Variety puts it, “the company’s content team is seeking nothing less than to redefine the very experience of video entertainment on mobile devices.” Because 75 percent of Snapchat Shows daily viewers are between 13-and-24 years old, Snapchat Shows is likely to attract not just eyeballs but advertisers.
That’s why networks find the platform attractive, with the hope that, by engaging viewers that don’t watch linear TV, they will convert some of them into linear TV viewers. Nielsen research bolstered that hope, by finding that “Discover partners experienced a 16 percent increase in the average monthly reach of their TV audience compared with a 5 percent decrease in the six-month period prior to the partnerships.”
From Snapchat’s point of view, creating content is a good way to keep users inside its own ecosystem; already, “the average Snapchat user returns to the app 18 times a day.” “What might seem like a marketing exercise today could very well function more like a distribution point tomorrow as more TV networks embrace a more multiplatform orientation.”