Ahead of its Jan. 4 launch on the U.S. version of Snapchat Discover, Bleacher Report has hired seven people within its “social moments” team to oversee the channel.
The seven staffers, consisting of social content producers including graphic design and animation experts, will focus on creating daily content for the channel. They will join four people who oversee Bleacher Report’s international Snapchat Discover channel, which has been available since February 2015. Like their international brethren, Bleacher Report’s U.S. Snapchat Discover team will focus on how sports fit into the broader culture, rather than serve as a highlight factory.
“Sometimes it’s not as much about what Russell Westbrook does during a game but more about what he wears to the postgame press conference,” said Rory Brown, president of Bleacher Report. “Bleacher Report has been good at capitalizing on where sports, fashion, music and culture intersect. Snapchat’s going to be an extension of that.”
Bleacher Report’s U.S. Discover launch is part of a broader mandate at the Turner-owned sports media outlet to create content that resonates with younger sports fans and publish them where they spend a lot of their time. Earlier in 2016, Turner said it will invest $100 million into Bleacher Report over several years with some of that money going toward building out the publisher’s social content team. The new Snapchat Discover hires, who join the 30 staffers already on this team, are part of this effort. “We’re going to keep hiring around the [social] moments team; it’s something that’s working very well,” said Brown.
With social being a companywide area of focus, the Snapchat Discover teams won’t work in a silo — there will be collaboration among other departments.
For instance, episodic content is another big area of focus for Bleacher Report. Currently, the company is looking at how it can bring a version of “Gridiron Heights,” a weekly animated series parodying the NFL, to Snapchat Discover. “Gridiron Heights” has its own team of writers, producers and animators that can develop exclusive content specific to Snapchat. Other episodic content could include daily series tied major sports events such as the NBA trade deadline.
Similarly, Bleacher Report’s video team, which is led by editor-in-chief Joe Yanarella, will also contribute to Snapchat Discover when it makes sense, Brown said.
Bleacher Report’s international Snapchat Discover team will remain focused on creating content specific to the U.K. and other international markets. There, audience interest predictably skews heavier toward soccer, which means focusing on that sport more while the domestic team focuses on sports and topics that matter more to U.S. sports fans.
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Bleacher Report’s U.S. Snapchat Discover channel comes as part of a broader content and advertising deal between Snap and Turner. As part of the deal, Turner also plans to develop original shows for Snapchat Discover, create Live Stories tied to its live events and sell ads against this content. With 80 percent of Bleacher Report’s audience being under the age of 34 — which is also Snapchat’s core audience — the publisher’s inclusion in the deal makes sense. “It’s a no-brainer in terms of strategic priorities and audience,” Brown said.
That said, after Snapchat’s recent changes to where Discover content is available on the app, some publishers saw viewership drop. As an international Snapchat Discover publisher for nearly two years, Brown admitted that there has been some “volatility” recently in terms of day-to-day viewership, but on the whole, he doesn’t see any “red flags.”
“We have been on the positive side of the changes,” he said. “We’ve always accepted that publishers are — at least a little bit — at the mercy of these platforms, which can make changes that impact publishers one way or another. We’ve got a good track record on being able to adapt and remain on the right side of the changes.”
Images provided by Bleacher Report