If you’ve been following the Olympics through Snapchat Discover, some of the content may have seemed a bit looser than NBC’s more buttoned-up coverage.
Content like “8 Problems Tall People Have” and “Can You Guess the Sport by the Athlete’s Butt?” might have seemed a bit more like Buzzfeed than Bob Costas, and that’s with good reason, as Buzzfeed is producing the content.
From the Wall Street Journal:
“I’ve been a little surprised with how much room they’ve given us to experiment, to try new things, to do things that are in execution pretty different from their coverage during the day and in primetime,” Mr. Gauthier said.
About a dozen BuzzFeed staffers are on location in Rio, dedicated to creating a daily edition on Snapchat Discover. The feature of the popular disappearing messages app has content from from a host of publishers ranging from ESPN to Cosmopolitan to The Wall Street Journal.
Gary Zenkel, president of NBC Olympics, said BuzzFeed was the clear choice for who should produce the Snapchat channel, which carries NBC’s branding, given the digital media company’s focus on video geared for social networks and NBCUniversal’s investment. As for the butt content, Mr. Zenkel said NBC wants to give BuzzFeed free rein to connect with Snapchat’s young audience.
“There are certainly boundaries which we would not want them to cross, but good humor and using perhaps some language that has become part of the lexicon of the generation, we’re not going to restrict that,” he said.
There are a few layers to unpack here. First is NBC’s ties to Buzzfeed; NBCUniversal invested $200 million in Buzzfeed last year, in an effort to strengthen its position in the world of new media. That equity partnership has paved the way for the working relationship in Rio, and allowed Buzzfeed’s brand of content creation to fit in with NBC’s own vision of how to cover the Olympics.
Then there’s the Snapchat side. The Discover channels have allowed for more branded content to be distributed through the social media service, and NBC plans to continue to build that relationship as well:
The pop-up Snapchat channel comes as NBCUniversal expands its relationship with the messaging app, which has become a destination for young media consumers fleeing the traditional cable bundle. This week, NBCU announced that it would roll out new original shows on Snapchat, like an E! Network news show and programming based on “The Voice.”
That’s a lot of working relationships to keep straight, but so far it seems to be working out for NBC, as they’re outsourcing things at which they might not be best suited to a partner whose strength lies in this exact area. As traditional ratings fall, boosting streaming and other online content will be even more important for NBC’s Olympic coverage going forward. It makes sense for NBC to explore all potential distribution channels for their $1.2 billion content.