The National Football League has snapped the ball again to Snapchat, extending its content partnership with Snap for the 2018 and 2019 seasons — with a brand-new Sunday gameday experience starting this year.
The NFL’s new “Sunday Publisher Story” will deliver news and highlights of games to Snapchat users during the season, with updates at least once per hour during the NFL’s Sunday games. That will let the NFL deliver an even richer feed to fans on its busiest days of the season, augmenting the recaps and features the league will continue to present on Snapchat.
“For us, this is mostly about deepening the engagement with the fans who are already on Snapchat,” said Blake Stuchin, NFL’s VP of digital media business development. “The Sunday Publisher Story will be told specifically from a perspective and tone designed for the Snapchat audience.”
The league also heard feedback from advertisers that they’d be interested in buying into a fuller-featured Sunday content package. Under the NFL pact, Snap primarily sells ads.
The NFL struck its first deal with Snap in 2015. Last season, 42 million unique U.S. viewers engaged with NFL content on Snapchat, with 52 million Snapchatters overall worldwide. The NFL is especially interested in the Gen Z/millennial crowd on the app: 70% of Snapchat users who watched NFL content in the U.S. for the 2017-2018 season were under 25.
Snapchat is “very much aligned with an ongoing interest we have in engaging younger audiences,” Stuchin said.
The league’s business goals in working with Snap partly are promotional, to be sure — designed to help steer fans to tune in to live games on TV, and buy tickets and merchandise. But the Snapchat deal represents a revenue stream in its own right. “It’s a profitable and growing partnership for the NFL and for Snap,” Stuchin said. “It’s not an insignificant amount [of revenue] for them, or for us,” he added, noting that Pepsi and Verizon are among the NFL’s key marketing partners across Snapchat and other platforms.
Under the two-year extension, regular and postseason game footage and other NFL-related content will continue to be featured within Snapchat’s “Our Stories” section, including fan-contributed posts. In another new wrinkle this season, the NFL will embed and share the Snapchat content across its platforms including NFL.com and NFL Mobile apps.
The NFL’s “Our Stories” feature, in addition to user-generated content from fans, also offers unique access at the league, club and even player level, Stuchin said: “It’s a great way to show that the best way to watch an NFL game is — and will always be — in the stadium. This has always been a showcase for that.”
In addition, the NFL and Snapchat will continue to collaborate to create custom geofilters featuring all 32 NFL clubs, allowing users to apply team-specific artwork to their posts when they are at NFL stadiums, practice facilities and league events.
“We really feel the NFL content on Snapchat is complementary to what you can find on other platforms – particularly linear TV,” said Juan David Borrero, Snap’s senior manager of partnerships.
In addition to the NFL, Snap has content partnerships with all the major leagues in the U.S., as well as with NBC and the IOC for the Olympics. Snap also recently teamed with Fox Sports to feature the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
The NFL is currently in conversations with Snap about potentially producing another Snapchat Show, the company’s short-form format for serialized content. Previously, the league has produced three original Snapchat Shows: “The NFL Show,” a recap program that aired during the 2016-17 season; “One Shot,” in the spring of 2017 leading up to that year’s NFL draft; and “Football Town,” about Georgia’s Valdosta High School football team making its first championship run in 19 years, which ran during the 2017-18 season.