Snapchat Discover started as a magazine rack, but it’s quickly becoming more like TV.
Witness the effort in the U.K. started two weeks ago by Bleacher Report and digital football network Copa90. The publishers teamed to launch a weekly “TV” show, “Saturdays are Lit,” exclusively on Snapchat Discover. The aim: to reinvent the traditional notion of a Saturday morning football show, suitable for today’s 14-24-year-old sports fans.
The 11 a.m. GMT Saturday show runs on Bleacher Report’s Snapchat Discover channel, which has been live for 18 months. Despite its American roots, Bleacher Report’s Discover channel is available everywhere except the U.S. and Australia, for now. That made London the obvious place to create the content, though the channel’s top-three highest audiences are Brazil, Canada, and the U.K. Bleacher Report wouldn’t reveal the exact viewing figures, but its Snapchat audience is “in the millions” ballpark.
“We wanted to do a flagship program, but not as we’d traditionally define it. We thought about the football shows we grew up on — like ‘Soccer AM’ — and wanted to figure out what the equivalent is now for young football mega fans, who are consuming media on their phones and on Snapchat,” said Bleacher Report’s director of international operations, James Grigg.
The Copa90 team was given free rein on content creation, while Bleacher Report’s four-person team of dedicated Snapchat editors oversaw the final product. The show will last the duration of the Premier League football season and consists of seven snaps a week. The second half of the 14-snap Bleacher Report edition is typical sports fare, so as not to confuse or alienate regulars of the channel.
“Saturdays are Lit” content isn’t tied to specific match fixtures because they can appear out of date in different time zones. So the team monitors what news or players are getting a lot of attention online and will run funny, irreverent video snaps around them. The first show showed what Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney could have been if he hadn’t been a famous footballer: showing him as a bin man.
Each tile encourages some kind of interaction, whether it’s swipe-ups, swipe-downs, or swipe-rights. And each movement made is logged so the team can see which parts have proved most popular. They’ll then dial up those aspects in the following edition.
The companies won’t reveal specifics, but tiles like the one pictured to the right, featuring mash-ups of different players and asking users to match them up, received particularly high share counts.
Editing for Snapchat video is vastly different than typical video processes where an editor will work on film “rushes,” with intermittent input from a creative director perhaps. “It’s a more solitary process,” said Copa90 boss James Kirkham. With Snapchat, it’s the complete reverse. Four editors work on “Saturdays are Lit” full time. “There isn’t a single part that’s not shared, discussed, with all those involved, as to what’s funny, comic timing, everything,” he added. This team has a mix of design, animation, editorial and video skills.
“Saturdays are Lit” is purposefully anti-polish. The show’s creators are all under 25 years old and Snapchat fluent. One of them is Copa90 creative strategist Tom Brandhorst. “Discover is interesting. I use it, but not much. The nature of the content there is not for me. It’s become very homogenized and gossip/celebrity-heavy. It’s clickbait stuff.”
A quick glance through the Discover tiles currently running show that it’s dominated by headlines like these: “7 advantages of having a tattoo (Cosmo); “REVEALED: Kim K’s daily make-up routine (The Sun); “Zoella has an uncanny new lookalike (MTV); “10 naughtiest fruit and veg ever (Tastemade); “The 11 most surprising Kardashian fueds” (People); “Now Brad has HIS say” (MailOnline). Brandhorst has a point.
“We’ve kind of taken the piss out of that clickbait style by using headlines to draw people in, but then once they’re in, the content is actually serious, interesting, not gossipy,” said Brandhorst. Case in point: Last weekend, it ran a snap with a clickbait-style header: “What’s Suarez done now?!” Users are then asked to “Swipe to escape clickbait” in the next snap.
Both companies are in active discussions about sponsorship opportunities. “This wouldn’t be a badging exercise but a smart sophisticated sponsorship,” said Kirkham. An obvious partner would be a sports brand which likes to be associated with cheeky, sometimes irreverent humor. “This is perfect for sports brands that want to reach that Gen Y demographic,” added Kirkham.
Bleacher Report has already had numerous advertising partners including Nike and Adidas. The first two weeks’ shows have sparked interest from brands, according to Grigg, and he said that the proceeds of any commercial deal that materializes for the show will be split between Bleacher Report and Copa90.