Inside NowThis’ Push Into Longer-Form Original Video Content

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Using quick hit, snackable-sized content, the digital video company NowThis has catapulted it to be the No. 1 most-viewed news brand cross-platform on digital and mobile, according to Tubular Labs. Avid Facebook users and Snapchat Discover visitors have likely encountered the company’s short-form videos, which consist of a series of text layered on top of video.

After scoring 2.5 billion views a month by focusing on “news-of-the-day quick hits,” Sarah Frank, who oversees the new NowThis Originals division, said the company is ready to invest more heavily into the production of more episodic, serialized original content that deviates from its tried-and-true formula.

“NowThis Originals is the natural extension after building our brand on social with quick, shareable, youth-focused trending stories told through video,” Frank told TheWrap in a recent interview. “While we still offer that to our audiences on every major social platform to stay up to date every day, we’ve dedicated this new division to lean more heavily into building IP, shows and series that young audiences can connect with that live on social and beyond — streaming and OTT, too.”

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Since 2017, NowThis has rolled out original projects such as “Never Seen,” which showcases first impressions of classic shows and movies from viewers who haven’t yet seen them; “Mane,” a show that “explores the intersection of hair and culture” and focuses on a different hair trend each week; and “Apocalypse NowThis,” which examines the different ways in which life as humans know it on Earth could be wiped out.

Even before the official January launch of NowThis Originals, the company has found both viewership and engagement for longer-form original content. The brand saw an increase in watch time of 36 percent last year over 2017, and Frank said the publisher’s original shows have amassed over 300 million minutes watched.

In addition to connecting with audiences, one equally important goal for the company is to connect with advertisers, who, over the past several years have grown skeptical about the brand safety of social platforms. Just this month, Disney, Hasbro, AT&T and Nestle pulled ads from YouTube after a blogger detailed how comments on Google’s video site were being used to facilitate a “soft-core pedophilia ring.” This incident follows a bumpy two years for YouTube, in which advertisers exited the platform left and right over ads running on content they deemed inappropriate.

In order to attract a greater number of advertisers, NowThis plans to produce content that is more brand safe than their typical news content. “This content isn’t news-of-the-day quick hits,” Frank said. “They are fun and thoughtful shows and series that are more brand-safe than news, opening us up to more advertiser partnerships.”

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So far, the digital publisher has already partnered with BoostMobile, SheaMoisture, and the NHL on a variety of upcoming multi-platform projects. No matter the partner, Frank said the content that comes out of the new division will continue to be focused on stories that matter to younger viewers, such as “gender equality and empowerment, climate change, social justice and pop culture.”

There is no set number on how many projects the NowThis Originals team will release in 2019. The team is currently developing its first official slate, which Frank anticipates will have approximately 10 shows at one time.

“I’m really excited for a new hosted series we’ve been developing called ‘What The FAQs’ — where we explore the weird, wacky and confusing questions about our bodies and the world around us,” Frank said. “We’ll explore what makes some people love spicy food while others can’t take the heat, or why mosquitoes always bite me and never my partner, or the real reasons songs get stuck in our heads. ‘What the FAQs’ pairs humor, deep tech and scientific research, and entertaining interviews with experts to get you the answers — in an entertaining way, of course.”

In addition to shows like “What the FAQs,” NowThis Originals also plans to develop new shows that explore the world of eSports and gaming culture, as well as more concepts involving celebrity guests.

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“Our original series will take the best learnings from NowThis’ five-plus years building engaging videos young people actually watch and share,” she said. “We’ve developed best practices to hook and hold audiences on all platforms, so of course our originals will be distributed across multiple platforms with the appropriate optimization to make sure these stories land with audiences.”

“We’re also not afraid to experiment, learn and iterate,” she added. “We’re seeing real success with host-led series and plan on doubling down in the future. We are also working with animation, feature-length docs and higher production value overall.”

Launched in 2012 and part of Group Nine since 2016, NowThis has 13 content verticals, including News, Politics, Entertainment, Future, Her, Money, Sports and Food. According to Nielsen Digital Content Ratings, the company reaches over 70 percent of all Americans in their 20s.

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NowThis Taps Former CNN Correspondent Dan Lieberman for Facebook Watch Series (Exclusive)

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

NowThis has hired former CNN digital correspondent Dan Lieberman for its new Facebook Watch series, “NowThis Morning.”

Lieberman will act as senior correspondent for the daily news show, which will be hosted by NowThis managing editor, Versha Sharma. Additionally, Zinhle Essamuah, a Washington, D.C.-based producer with NowThis Politics, will become a full-time Political Correspondent for the series, which will stream on Facebook’s video platform beginning on Monday, Sept. 24  at 9 a.m. ET.

“I couldn’t be more excited to join the team at this incredible moment. I’ve been a huge fan of NowThis and am now thrilled to help kick off its new daily news show, ‘NowThis Morning,’ and report on the core issues that matter most to young people,” Dan Lieberman said in a statement. “NowThis has built a unique voice that instantly connects with young audiences, leading the industry in covering the most important stories through such a human and empathetic lens.”

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The new series, which is being funded by Facebook as part of its news initiative, will center on breaking news and topical stories targeted at millenials and Gen Z. The daily news show will also feature four other NowThis on-air contributors, including Judah Robinson (International), Sally Turner (Entertainment), Alejandro Alba (Future & Tech), and Broadway’s “Hamilton” star, Javier Muñoz as a special contributor.

“We’re thrilled to announce such a talented and dynamic editorial team who will bring NowThis Morning to life for millions of young people on Facebook,” said Nancy Han, NowThis Morning executive producer. “I’m confident that Versha and the team of incredible on-air correspondents will spark smart and relatable conversations and provide informative morning news for a mobile generation.”

Week one guests on the show will include actress America Ferrera, former White House Associate Director of Public Engagement and actor Kal Penn, and actress Sarah Jones.

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NowThis is a social news publisher that encompasses 13 content verticals which generate a combined 2.5 billion monthly views, according to the company. Those verticals include News, Politics, Entertainment, Future, Her, Money, Sports and Food among others. In December 2016, NowThis joined forces with Thrillist, The Dodo, and Seeker to form Group Nine Media, in a deal totaling $585 million.

Welcome to NowThis Morning

Posted by NowThis Morning on Tuesday, July 10, 2018

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Snapchat Offers Select Publishers New Path to Monetization With Curated Stories

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Snap Inc. is giving select publishers a new way to increase the value of their “Our Story” content on Snapchat by allowing them to aggregate public posts into the mix while monetizing the content, the company announced Thursday.

In the coming weeks, 20-plus well-known media partners — such as CNN and NowThis — will be given the ability to curate Our Stories covering areas of editorial expertise using public posts. Under the new partnerships, publishers will be able to source publicly-submitted video and photo Snaps, while adding editorial context like graphics or text to finalize an Our Story.

For example, if CNN is reporting on an event taking place on Capitol Hill, it will be able to search and use publicly available posts from Snapchatters related to the topic and then mix in its own commentary. The idea is that the user-generated content (UGC) will enhance the quality and authenticity of the posts, enticing users to stay on the platform longer and come back more often.

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“Creating authentic, compelling content for Snap’s unique audience has been core to Group Nine’s strategy from day one. We’re proud to operate Discover channels for NowThis, The Dodo and Thrillist; have numerous shows across all our brands; and to be an official breaking news partner for Snap with NowBreaking,” said Ben Lerer, CEO, Group Nine Media. “This new curation tool allows us the opportunity to lean even more heavily into what we do best — being part of the conversation and telling authentic stories that resonate deeply with young people.”

Snapchat, which monetizes its Our Stories feature through pre- and mid-roll ads, will share the ad revenue with its curation partners for the Stories they produce. The company did not give specifics on the exact split.

The new partner-curated Stories is an extension of Our Stories, which the company launched in 2015. Assembled by Snap’s in-house editorial team, the content is viewed by millions each day. According to Snap, more than 75 million people have watched Our Stories on Snapchat’s Discover in the past month alone.

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At launch, partners include: Brut, CNN, Cosmopolitan, Daily Mail, Daquan, Dodo, Harper’s Bazaar, iHeart, The Infatuation, Jukin, Lad Bible, Love Stories TV, Mic, NBC News, NBC Sports, NBC, Today Show, New York Post, NowThis, Overtime, Refinery 29, Telemundo, The Tab, Viacom, Vice, Wave.TV and Whalar.

The announcement comes after a rough week for Snap. The company’s shares dropped to a new all-time low of $9 on Wednesday, with Wall Street analysts raising concerns over a decline in daily active users (DAU) and the exit of high-ranking executives.

Part of its struggle to hold onto user engagement is the competition it’s facing from Instagram, which has a number of features similar to those of Snapchat. Launched in 2016, Instagram Stories already has 400 million DAUs, more than double the 191 million DAU visiting Snapchat Stories.

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News Shows From BuzzFeed, Bloomberg And NowThis Come To Facebook Watch

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‘Black-ish’ Star Yara Shahidi Kicks Off Political-Engagement Campaign With NowThis

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Yara Shahidi, star of “Black-ish” and “Grown-ish,” is raising her profile as a political activist with the official launch of an initiative urging young Americans to get involved politically — and vote in the 2018 U.S. midterm elections. Shahidi, who turned 18 on Feb. 10, has teamed with social-news publisher NowThis for Eighteen x 18, […]