Last week Snapchat announced Snapchat Discover, their new content platform featuring partners like Vice, Comedy Central, and Yahoo! News. For the sports crowd, US users of the ephemeral messaging app will be served content exclusively from ESPN, while international users will get sports content via Snapchat’s partnership with Bleacher Report.
For everyone over the age of 25, what this means is that the Snapchat app, which is primarily used to send pictures to friends that disappear after a set number of seconds, is now a full-fledged media platform.
Regular messages sent on Snapchat disappear after 10 seconds or less. However, stories in Discover will appear for 24 hours before being refreshed with a new batch of content.
The ESPN channel has great visuals and the UX will be familiar to Snapchat users (swipe right for the next story, swipe up for the content of said story). There’s no buffering for video and the content loads immediately—there was never a lag when I was reviewing it. Discover is supported by ads, but you aren’t hit over the head with them. You’re able to swipe them away much like you are the editorial content.
One gripe is there wasn’t any unique content developed for the Snapchat audience, something that may change as content providers become more familiar with the platform. With an estimated 100 million-plus monthly active users, there is great opportunity for providers to attract a young, mobile-friendly audience.
Snapchat insists that this isn’t a social media play, saying in a blog post, “This is not social media. Social media companies tell us what to read based on what’s most recent or most popular. We see it differently. We count on editors and artists, not clicks and shares, to determine what’s important.”
This may be true, but if Snapchat wants to get established in the content game they need to provide a reason to use their app over other native content apps. Right now I can’t see a reason why someone wouldn’t just use the ESPN app.
Additionally, one of the big strengths of social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter is curation — the individual has the power to select the content they see based on their network. Curated editorial content that is essentially cherry picked from what you can find on the web doesn’t provide enough differentiation or value to set it apart from social media platforms
Snapchat’s Discover also signals further fragmentation in the mobile content landscape, with content providers developing their own apps and social media apps like Snapchat developing content platforms. But with mobile video’s strong growth (it currently makes up 22 percent of digital video consumption), combined with the fact that young people aged 14 to 24 are now watching a majority of their video on screens other than their TV, a land rush for a slice of the mobile video market is an obviously play for a growing behemoth like Snapchat.