Fusion to Turn Its Snapchat Channel Into a Network With Five New Shows
ABC's and Univision's joint venture Fusion may operate its own TV network, but the media company is also making TV shows for nontraditional outlets, like its Snapchat Discover channel.
Fusion plans to premiere five original shows exclusively on its Snapchat Discover channel sometime later this year as it experiments with what people want to watch on which media platforms, be it TV, YouTube, Instagram or Snapchat.
These won't be the first original shows to premiere on Fusion's Snapchat Discover channel, which is one of more than a dozen channels run by publishers like Vice and ESPN within the mobile messaging app's publisher portal. In February the Fusion debuted a 7-episode weekly travel docu-series called "Outpost" that ended its run on April 8 and has already picked up that show for a second season that will premiere on April 22.
The five new series will also be unscripted with a lean toward an international audience, which would be the only audience initially able to check out the shows since Fusion's Snapchat Discover channel not yet available in the U.S.
"The Artisans" will document people around the world who have inherited traditions from their families. Canadian producer and fashion aficionado Jonas Bell Pasht will examine the history of popular clothing trends in "Weird Threads." "Science Fiction, Science Fact" will use old science-fiction movies to understand what's going on with technology today. "Capitals" will explore the new wave of international metropoli and what they stand for, starting with Sao Paulo, Brazil. And "Off the Record" will deconstruct popular songs to identify what makes them catchy and trace elements back to older music.
Each of the shows will air at least six episodes that will run between two and three minutes a pop. Fusion is hoping the shows may entice brands to sign on as sponsors, though it doesn't plan to hold a series until a sponsor is secured. Fusion's chief strategy officer Boris Gartner said that the serialized episodes of "Outpost" have outperformed one-off videos Fusion has posted to its Snapchat channel, but declined to offer viewership stats.
"One of the great things we're doing with Snapchat is testing formats and types of content," Mr. Gartner said.
For example, each of the shows will be shot vertically so that people can watch them with their phones in portrait mode. That's a departure from the traditional widescreen format popularized by film and TV and adopted online by YouTube, Hulu and seemingly every other digital video service.
Nonetheless vertical videos appear to be popular with Snapchat's Millennial and teen audience. AT&T's Snapchat series "SnapperHero" was shot vertically and averaged about 120,000 views per episode. And in meetings with media buyers, Snapchat execs have been emphasizing fullscreen vertical video as unique to the mobile messaging app and a differentiator from other services like Facebook's Instagram or Twitter's Vine which play videos vertically but don't take up the entire phone screen, according to people involved in those meetings.
Mr. Gartner said he doesn't know when Snapchat will add Fusion to its U.S. lineup of Snapchat Discover channels and that the company plans to explore ways to air the shows in the U.S. after they premiere on Snapchat.
"One of the ideas we're toying around with is once we premiere the series on Snapchat, we put up the first episode on our site," he said. Another possibility would be to distribute an entire series through another digital outlet after the show's Snapchat run ends. Fusion is also filming some of these shows in multiple ways, so that an episode could premiere vertically on Snapchat but eventually air in widescreen on Fusion's TV network or Apple TV app or so that different episodes may air on different distribution outlets.
"The good thing of where we are right now with Fusion, the platform that we are, is that we can leverage all the platforms we have distribution with. So we would love to see one of the Snapchat series end up being a full 12-episode, 30-minute series on our cable network," Mr. Gartner said.