Snap keeps building toward its vision of Snapchat becoming the TV habit for the mobile generation.
The company is launching “BTW,” BuzzFeed’s first original show for Snapchat, promising snack-size celebrity and entertainment news dispatches every weekday afternoon. The show premieres July 8 and will run Monday-Friday, with episodes 3-5 minutes in length going live every day at 3 p.m. ET. The show, culling from stories produced across BuzzFeed, is hosted by BuzzFeed’s Shanice Bland, Patrice Peck and David Mack (pictured above).
Snapchat now has more than 80 original shows, and it has found that the daily format has performed particularly well, said Sean Mills, Snap’s head of original content and senior director of content programming. For example, NBC’s “Stay Tuned” news program for Snapchat pulls in an average of 30 million viewers each month, with one-third of them tuning in at least five days a week, according to Mills. For ESPN’s “SportsCenter” show on Snapchat, 60% of the audience watches at least three days per week.
“It looks like the way people watch television, as opposed to a viral hit in the app,” said Mills.
“We’ve been able to see that [Snapchat users who watch daily shows] are not casual viewers,. They’re fans. They subscribe and come back to watch it.”
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Into that mix comes BuzzFeed’s “BTW,” a hosted show with quick hits about celebrities and social trends. It’s going up at 3 p.m. ET each day, based on BuzzFeed’s analysis showing that was the strongest time of day for consumption of entertainment-news fare.
The series is created and produced by BuzzFeed Studios, headed by Cindy Vanegas-Gesuale, whose role at the company recently expanded to oversee all video programming. “BTW” will lean into “stories that are of the culture,” she said. “We think platform-first to make sure we’re speaking to how the audience consumes content.”
Snapchat’s audience tends to be younger than other platforms: According to BuzzFeed, its audience on Snapchat skews under 24 and female. (Snap claims the Snapchat app is used by 90% of all U.S. consumers 13-24 and 75% of all 13- to 34-year-olds.) By contrast, BuzzFeed’s “AM to DM” daily show for Twitter caters to an older crowd that is more interested in hard news.
As with other Snapchat Shows, Snap will share a cut of ad revenue from “BTW” with BuzzFeed. Snapchat Shows include ads of to 6 seconds that are unskippable. At launch, Snapchat users watching “BTW” can swipe up and get to the Show’s profile page where they can see past episodes, subscribe and turn on notifications for when a new episode airs.
BuzzFeed has committed to at least a six-month run, Venegas-Gesuale said. Mills said “BTW” will stay on Snapchat for as long as both companies “mutually find it successful.” It’s the BuzzFeed show for Snap but the company has been a partner for Snapchat’s Discover media section since 2015.
Regarding the midsummer launch for BuzzFeed’s “BTW,” Mills said Snap doesn’t really see seasonality in viewing patterns the way the television biz historically has. “When they go on vacation, people bring their phones,” he said.
The three rotating “BTW” hosts are Shanice Bland, production coordinator for BuzzFeed News projects, including “Profile” on Facebook Watch and “AM to DM” and “Hella Opinions” on Twitter; Patrice Peck, a culture writer and commentator at BuzzFeed who specializes in diversity and intersectional representation in Hollywood and pop culture; and David Mack, a deputy director of breaking news for BuzzFeed News focusing on entertainment and politics.
Shows on Snapchat are vertical full-screen, and are edited to be fast-paced and hyper-visual, featuring graphics, split screens, and quick cuts. The company says over the past year, time spent watching Snapchat Shows every day more than tripled (but it didn’t detail actual numbers).
Snap isn’t alone in targeting mobile video. Jeffrey Katzenberg’s Quibi, for one, is a billion-dollar-plus bet that there’s demand for a premium smartphone entertainment service (positioned as a mobile-focused HBO or Netflix). In that context, Snapchat’s aim is to be like the free, ad-supported broadcast network for those whose mobile phones are the first screen.
Snapchat users can access “BTW” at this link, which includes this Snapcode:
Pictured above (l. to r.): BuzzFeed’s “BTW” hosts Shanice Bland, Patrice Peck and David Mack