UK news brands launch first ‘shows’ using new Snapchat video format as they claim audience reach more important than making money

Sky News and 16 other UK publishers are launching Snapchat “shows” for the first time, but for many making money “doesn’t really matter” compared with the opportunity to reach new audiences.

Publishers like the Guardian, Vice, Cosmopolitan UK, Pink News are among 17 brands creating 26 news, lifestyle and content series for Snapchat’s expanded Discover page in the UK (where content is published).

The new shows will have dedicated profile pages and appear on Discover alongside existing publisher stories and daily editions from the likes of the Telegraph, the Sun and the Economist.

Shows are designed to be on average five minutes long with a clear narrative and are more hyper-visual than “snaps”, which are a maximum of ten seconds long. The shows will also make use of motion graphics, split screens and quick video cuts – moving closer to traditional TV.

Snapchat said its existing US shows, available in the UK, were already attracting an audience of 5m users, while the time spent watching shows globally has more than tripled since the start of the year.

Rami Saad, head of international content partnerships at Snap, said having a diverse mix of publisher partners with a focus on “authoritative and credible” brands would help stop the platform from becoming an “echo chamber”.

Publishers will earn money from Snapchat commercials, a six-second non-skippable ad format which runs within shows. A revenue share agreement is in place, but Saad would not comment on the split between Snapchat and publishers.

Speaking at a presentation this morning, Sky News output editor Alan Strange said it was important to showcase the broadcaster’s “trusted and authoritative news” to help bring “clarity in an uncertain world” alongside more lifestyle-focused genres.

He said: “The decision to publish on Snapchat was an open goal for us because it was a way for us to take an existing legacy brand as Sky News and start to reach new audiences, particularly younger audiences, and also just to experiment with storytelling which was the most exciting thing for us.

“Our ambition and our strategy overall is to get the best of our journalism in front of as many people as possible and that’s evolved over time to… work with platforms that we think match that ambition.”

Strange added that the new format meant Sky News could “produce premium longer-form content that can sit and have a longer shelf life” compared to the daily edition with individual news stories that quickly date.

Sky News today launched its new Snapchat show Hotspots, which goes behind the scenes of big international stories with top correspondents like Alex Crawford.

Strange said: “These are stories that are important stories of our time that can get lost sometimes when they just have one run or a few runs on a linear channel.”

The broadcaster will also launch a second show, Divided, featuring “interviews with people with powerful stories to tell”, and plans to develop more, while Sky Sports is also experimenting with the genre.

Strange added that although Sky News’s Snapchat revenue was “paying for itself”, making money is not essential despite having the pressures that come from being part of a large commercial organisation.

He said: “At Sky News we’ve always built the walls around the newsroom. We’re quite fiercely independent. We don’t want to be journalists to make money.

“So while everything we do has to justify its existence, it doesn’t have to justify its existence through revenue as a business model, which is pretty good.”

Strange added that the decision had been made to turn off ads for Hotspots for its launch today, explaining: “We just thought we want people to see this and we don’t want to have any ads in the wrong place”.

He added: “Making money doesn’t really matter but the other stuff absolutely does – reaching new audiences and getting the journalism out there.”

Snapchat original shows being launched October 2018. Picture: Snapchat

Vice is creating five shows across its main channel and fashion channel i-D including Life Hacks with Oobah Butler and Most Expensivest, about how the 1 per cent spend their money.

Olly Osborne, EMEA marketing director, said Vice’s key objective was to “reach audiences wherever they spend their time”.

“For us it’s about that balance of looking at the revenue opportunity plus also looking at the audience growth opportunity as well… we want to evaluate all of those pieces alongside each other.

“The audience growth opportunity that we’ve seen with our channels has been amazing. We’re expecting a similar scenario with shows as well.”

Osborne said Vice now produces 5,000 pieces of content each month in Europe and there was not enough space within its existing Snapchat channels to expand on them.

He said: “The opportunity to break things out into specific shows and say this is our Discover channels, this is what you get here, this is editorial, and here’s our premium video offering over here, that for us was the delineation we wanted to make.”

Mick Greenwood, director of visual content at Culture Trip, said the travel and lifestyle website is venture capital backed, meaning “we are not necessarily in the phase of our evolution where we need to make money right now”.

Launching the eight-part food and culture series Hungerlust on Snapchat, Greenwood added: “So for us it’s about marketing. We’re a digital company and we think we would rather have people know about us and what we do… Snapchat is a way of getting eyeballs.”

The Guardian is another traditional news publisher set to launch a Snapchat show with Fake Or For Real, which it said would “challenge viewers on their preconceptions about current news”.

In a statement, Guardian chief customer officer Anna Bateson said the show “drives a high amount of interest and engagement”, adding that the newsbrand was “delighted” to deliver its journalism to a wider audience using the platform.

Picture: Snapchat

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