The BBC gave the controversial Silicon Valley tech IPO Snap a priceless publicity boost today, by bringing its Planet Earth II series “exclusively” to Snap’s app and nerd goggles before the show launches on terrestrial TV in North America.
Planet Earth II made its UK TV debut in November. Six episodes, containing some unseen natural history footage, will be formatted for a “vertical mobile viewing experience”, the BBC says, in what it describes as “a first for a mobile audience”. Apparently watching video clips on your phone in the past no longer qualifies as a “mobile viewing experience” - and it certainly wasn’t vertical.
In a press statement, BBC America’s President Sarah Barnett described Snap users as “some of the most plugged in and digitally aware people on earth”, and another executive, speaking for BBC Canada, enthused about reaching “a highly engaged millennial audience”. Don’t let analysts mar the Beeb’s frenetic Dad-at-the-School-Disco performance. They point out that Snap’s growth is slowing, that Snap has burned through $1bn cash in two years.
Originally Snapchat was merely a messaging app with a gimmick - the messages disappear - adopted by sexting teens, and people pretending to be sexting teens. Growth really went off when it added easy to use video editing and captioning. Snap Stories could be shared and viewed for 24 hours. Today, Snap bills itself as “a camera company”: it launched a pair of Google Glass-like nerd goggles, available in just 10 vending machines ("Snapbooths") in the USA.
Today finds Snap Inc. as desperate to get into TV as media executives are to get down with vertical millennials. Advertisers can sync their Snap Ads with their own broadcast TV ad spots, or those of competitors.
However, pundits question whether like GoPro, the Snap IPO will prove a flash in the pan as others copy the technology. Edison’s Richard Windsor sees mostly “pain”, pointing out that millennials don’t spend as much as older users.
And there are lawsuits in the pipeline.
Still, it’s perfect for BBC America, which is a purely commercial venture that relies on advertising and isn't funded by UK TV licences. This stateside wing of the Beeb describes itself as “a hub of innovative, culturally contagious programming like the ground-breaking un-scripted series...” er, Top Gear. Just so you know. ®