Snap's plan to become mobile TV is panning out (SNAP)

Robert Elder
Global Ad Spend, Digital and Traditional

BI Intelligence

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Snap's initial venture into TV-like programming is going well, Digiday reports. Snapchat Shows are posting strong viewership, it’s steadily adding new content from a solid roster of production studios, and partnering media companies are keen to produce even more Snapchat native content. This is all good news for a company that wants to position itself as TV for the mobile generation, in order to bank on the growth in mobile ad spend. 

Snap is:

  • Partnering with established media companies. Since last fall, Snap has secured deals with 13 media partners to produce these video series. This includes partnerships with major broadcasters such as A+E Networks, NBC, the NFL, CBS, Turner, and Vertical Networks, which is a media company created by Elisabeth Murdoch, among others. Partnering with these companies — many of which can be classed as ‘legacy’ networks — is a path towards premium programming, and aligns with Snap’s strategy to draw TV ad dollars.
  • Posting impressive viewership on Snap Shows. During Snap’s Q1 2017 earnings call, CEO Evan Spiegel said that they were drawing in audiences of 8 million people. Success stories include Vertical Networks’ "Phone Swap," which gets 10 millions viewers per episode; A+E-produced "Second Chance,” which averaged 8 million viewers in its first season; and E! News’ "The Rundown," a twice-weekly entertainment and news show, which averages 7 million viewers per episode.
  • Leveraging ephemerality to encourage viewership. Video episodes are posted in Snapchat Discover for a period of 24 to 48 hours and then disappear, giving people a reason to tune in, according to Digiday. This arrangement also mimics the appointment-style scheduling of shows on traditional TV, and Snapchat users can subscribe to certain shows and be notified when new episodes are up. All of this suggests that Snap has the user experience for mobile TV figured out, or that, at the very least, it has the edge in this regard over its rivals, like Facebook and Instagram.
  • Building out a robust library of original video. So far, Snap has debuted 14 short-form video series on Snapchat Discover, its publisher section in the app. It currently airs one show a day in Discover and wants to ramp up to airing three shows a day by the end of the year. Broadening its content catalog, Snap is cementing its status as a video-centric mobile app, can cast a wider net to draw in new and diverse audiences, and keep existing audiences engaged with fresh programming.
  • Touting an audience that’s young and hard to reach. The app reaches 45% of 18-34 years olds in the US on a given day — nine times more than the average daily reach on this demographic of the top 15 TV networks and nearly five times more than the top TV network. Indeed, 87% of Snapchat's daily users between 18-34 can't be reached by any top 15 TV network. At the same time, 61% of Snapchat’s 60 million daily US users can’t be found on YouTube, 46% aren’t on Instagram, and 35% aren’t on Facebook, according to App Annie. 

The race by social platforms to secure high-quality video programming is a major trend to watch. Snapchat, Facebook, and Twitter, and other more pure-play video platforms are engaged in this battle, the spoils of which are lucrative ad dollars. IDC estimates that global ad spend will grow from $652 in 2016 to $767 billion in 2020, with mobile being the fastest growing segment — it’s expected to grow nearly threefold from $66 billion in 2016 to $196 billion in 2020.

Over the last few years, there’s been much talk about the “death of TV.” However, television is not dying so much as it's evolving: extending beyond the traditional television screen and broadening to include programming from new sources accessed in new ways.

It's strikingly evident that more consumers are shifting their media time away from live TV, while opting for services that allow them to watch what they want, when they want. Indeed, we are seeing a migration toward original digital video such as YouTube Originals, SVOD services such as Netflix, and live streaming on social platforms.

However, not all is lost for legacy media companies. Amid this rapidly shifting TV landscape, traditional media companies are making moves across a number of different fronts — trying out new distribution channels, creating new types of programming aimed at a mobile-first audience, and partnering with innovate digital media companies. In addition, cable providers have begun offering alternatives for consumers who may no longer be willing to pay for a full TV package.

Dylan Mortensen, senior research analyst for BI Intelligence, has compiled a detailed report on the future of TV that looks at how TV viewer, subscriber, and advertising trends are shifting, and where and what audiences are watching as they turn away from traditional TV. 

Here are some key points from the report:

  • Increased competition from digital services like Netflix and Hulu as well as new hardware to access content are shifting consumers' attention away from live TV programming.
  • Across the board, the numbers for live TV are bad. US adults are watching traditional TV on average 18 minutes fewer per day versus two years ago, a drop of 6%. In keeping with this, cable subscriptions are down, and TV ad revenue is stagnant.
  • People are consuming more media content than ever before, but how they're doing so is changing. Half of US TV households now subscribe to SVOD services, like Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu, and viewing of original digital video content is on the rise.
  • Legacy TV companies are recognizing these shifts and beginning to pivot their business models to keep pace with the changes. They are launching branded apps and sites to move their programming beyond the TV glass, distributing on social platforms to reach massive, young audiences, and forming partnerships with digital media brands to create new content.
  • The TV ad industry is also taking a cue from digital. Programmatic TV ad buying represented just 4% (or $2.5 billion) of US TV ad budgets in 2015 but is expected to grow to 17% ($10 billion) by 2019. Meanwhile, networks are also developing branded TV content, similar to publishers' push into sponsored content.

In full, the report: 

  • Outlines the shift in consumer viewing habits, specifically the younger generation.
  • Explores the rise of subscription streaming services and the importance of original digital video content.
  • Breaks down ways in which legacy media companies are shifting their content and advertising strategies.
  • And Discusses new technology that will more effectively measure audiences across screens and platforms. 

Interested in getting the full report? Here are two ways to access it:

  1. Subscribe to an All-Access pass to BI Intelligence and gain immediate access to this report and more than 250 other expertly researched reports. As an added bonus, you'll also gain access to all future reports and daily newsletters to ensure you stay ahead of the curve and benefit personally and professionally. » START A MEMBERSHIP
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