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Original shows are coming to Musical.ly.
The video-sharing app popular with teens is the latest tech company to jump into the programming business through deals with NBCUniversal, Viacom and Hearst Magazines Digital Media. Between them, the three media companies are producing five original shortform shows that are beginning to roll out on Musical.ly on Thursday. More shows from these partners and others are expected to launch in the future.
These partners, says Musical.ly director of business development Kevin Ferguson, “represent a great diversity of content” that will be attractive to Musical.ly young audiences.
Hearst’s digital division is launching two shows under its Seventeen brand. The first, Fashion to DIY, offers tips on how to create runway looks at home, and the second, Seventeen and the City, showcases hidden hot spots around New York. Another show focused on beauty tips and tutorials will become available in the coming weeks.
NBCU’s first show for Musical.ly comes via its E! network. Called Crush, it explores social media stars’ celebrity crushes. Projects from NBC Entertainment and Telemundo are also in the works. Viacom, meanwhile, is producing partially animated series Greatest Story Ever for Musical.ly and is bringing a digital version of MTV’s Nick Cannon-hosted Wild N’ Out to the platform.
“NBCUniversal’s partnership with Musical.ly is part of our continued commitment to produce premium mobile content, tailored to a specific platform,” said Ron Lamprecht, executive vp business development at NBCU Digital Enterprises, in a statement. “We look forward to working with Musical.ly to develop new ad formats and experiences designed for their highly engaged user base.”
Three-year-old Musical.ly has grown to more than 200 million by making it easy for them to create catchy videos often set to music that play on loop. The app has even birthed some of its own stars — including Jacob Sartorius and Ariel Martin, known as Baby Ariel — much in the way that YouTube and Vine did. As its user base as grown, brands have flocked to the platform. MTV announced plans to cast an episode of its My Super Sweet 16 reboot on Musical.ly in April.
The company has been exploring the idea of adding original programming from some for some time. “There have been quite a number of media companies reaching out to us who want to be part of this launch,” says Musical.ly president of North America Alex Hofmann. He explains that the company opted to work with brands with which it already has an established relationship.
The four-minute videos will have their own home within the Musical.ly app. They will also feature an interactive component, encouraging Musical.ly users — known as “musers” — to respond with videos of their own by using the hashtags associated with each show.
Ferguson says the shows will be released weekly with the goal of creating a predictable schedule. “We will learn a lot from this initial launch experience,” he adds, noting that they will use their findings to determine “what the right content quantity and frequency will be.”
Musical.ly, which has raised more than $100 million in venture capital and is valued at around $500 million, is one of a number of tech companies pushing into original programming. YouTube began funding TV-length programs and features for its Red subscription platform in 2015; Twitter has started to assemble a roster of live programs; and Snapchat has been working with media partners such as NBCU, ABC and A+E for shows that stream on its Discover platform. Facebook, meanwhile, is starting to assemble a slate of original shows, including going into production on competition series Last State Standing and negotiating a deal to revive Loosely Exactly Nicole.
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