BBC Worldwide has teamed with Snapchat to drive TV tune-in for the North American launch of “Planet Earth II” nature documentary series through an exclusive short-form show — featuring never-before-seen footage.
Snapchat, meanwhile, sees the “Planet Earth II” show as content designed to live on its own, a way to refashion a popular TV franchise for its digital audience. The service is running ads in the show, with Goldman Sachs among the sponsors for the first episode.
The six-episode Snapchat show will premiere on Feb. 17, the day before the television premiere of the “Planet Earth II” nature documentary series in the U.S. (on BBC America) and Canada (on BBC Earth) on Feb. 18.
The show, available only to Snapchat users in the U.S. and Canada, was produced by BBC Worldwide specifically for the social service’s vertical mobile-video orientation. Each episode (running 4-6 minutes in length) will tell a different “Planet Earth II” story featuring previously unreleased footage filmed for the TV series, narrated by Oscar-nominated British actress Sophie Okonedo. The BBC series encompassed a total of 2,089 filming days across 117 production trips in 40 different countries.
“Through this partnership we’re collaborating with Snap to take a truly digital-first approach to landmark natural history — exclusively for this innovative mobile platform,” said Tim Davie, CEO of BBC Worldwide. He added that the Snapchat deal will give North American audiences a new way to discover the franchise, after “Planet Earth II” already aired in the U.K.
BBC is aiming to tap Snapchat’s millennial-heavy user base to attract TV views. Snapchat averaged 158 million daily active users in the fourth quarter of 2016, according to the IPO filing of parent company Snap Inc. last week.
For Snap, the deal adds another premium media brand to to its content lineup on Snapchat Discover — and another source of ad revenue. To date, shows produced for Snapchat have included digital offshoots for ABC’s “The Bachelor,” NBC’s “Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” and “The Voice,” as well as E!’s “The Rundown” and ESPN’s “Game Day.” Snapchat is working with ABC, NBC, and Turner to develop additional shows, including both scripted and unscripted series.
BBC and Snap touted the “Planet Earth II” collaboration as the first Snapchat show to employ binaural recording — a method of recording sound that uses two microphones, designed to create a 3D stereo sound experience.
In addition, Snap is releasing “Planet Earth II” Snapcodes — which QR-like codes for opening content and adding friends in the Snapchat app. Those will let users watch preview footage of the series and subscribe to “Planet Earth II” on Snapchat in advance of the first episode’s Feb. 17 debut, as well as give them access to previous episodes once they’ve hit the app.
“For millions of Snapchatters, our app is their first screen — and this will be their first introduction to the unbelievable cinematic quality, storylines and stunning visuals of the Planet Earth franchise,” said Nick Bell, Snap’s VP of content. “We saw a unique opportunity to work with BBC Worldwide to reimagine ‘Planet Earth II’ for our platform.”