- Snapchat, the image messaging app with 166 million monthly active users, has built an audience of millions for its video programming, but its reach still lags behind that of traditional TV, according to data from CNBC.
- Snapchat’s most popular original show, “The Rundown,” by entertainment news network E!, averages about 7 million viewers a week — half the audience of the top-rated show on broadcast TV, CBS’s “The Big Bang Theory” with 14 million viewers.
- CBS’s average primetime audience was 9.6 million last year — a 12% decline from the year before, according to Deadline Hollywood. Snapchat claims viewership for its political show “Good Luck America” grew 53% between the first and second seasons but didn't disclose specific audience sizes.
Social networks clearly recognize the power of video programming to keep people engaged in their apps, with Snapchat, Twitter and Facebook consistently adding original shows. Broadcast TV still has broad reach, but ratings have shown a steady and worrisome decline in recent years. Not only did CBS see a drop in primetime viewership, but other major networks like ABC and the CW also saw smaller audiences. Fox eked out a 1% gain to 5.8 million viewers while NBC rose 0.2% to 8.1 million average weekly viewers.
NBCUniversal likely sees a future in social media’s TV programming having invested $500 million in the initial public offering of Snap in March. According to Nielsen data, the biggest drop in TV viewing last year was among teenagers, a key audience for Snapchat. They watched 13 hours and 54 minutes of traditional TV a week in Q4 2016, an 11% decline from the year before and a 38% drop from five years ago, according to data by Nielsen. As broadcast TV struggles to find its next generation of loyal viewers, several major mobile-first companies are trying to leverage this shift in TV viewing and harness younger audiences by experimenting with original programming. James Corden, for example, recently announced his plans to star in a six-episode series of short-form videos on Snapchat this fall. Corden already has a strong presence with short-form video content on other social platforms like YouTube, where his "Late Late Show" has 10 million subscribers, so the migration to Snapchat will likely come with relative ease.
Still, Snapchat faces some impediments to video adoption. In April 2017, a JPMorgan Chase survey found that two-thirds of surveyed Snapchat users never watch video ads on the platform, while 73% said they never interact with Snap Ads by swiping up to access more content.