Snap and the NFL recently announced a multi-year extension to their content partnership. Now, with the season starting tomorrow, they’re revealing more details about what kinds of content fans can expect to find on Snapchat.
For tomorrow night’s kickoff, they’ve created a special augmented reality Lens that takes fans from the Kansas City Chiefs’ locker room (the Chiefs are hosting the Houston Texans) through the tunnel and into Arrowhead Stadium, where they’ll be greeted by Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes and Houston’s Deshaun Watson.
The Lens will be available nationally, and as regular games begin, it will transform into an entrance into a more generic NFL stadium.
After that, the NFL will be creating a highlight show that updates each game day, plus three weekly shows — “Rankings” (which offers historic NFL facts designed to encourage fan debates), “Mic’d Up” (a behind-the-scenes look at what coaches and players say during the games) and “Predictions.” The NFL will also continue producing “Real Talk with the NFL,” a show that highlights the league’s social justice initiatives.
Ian Trombetta, the NFL’s senior vice president of social and influence marketing, told me that all of this content is created by the league’s social lab in partnership with Snap. And while the NFL continues to see high ratings on traditional linear TV, he said Snapchat plays “a really critical role for us.”
“It’s always about: How do we engage new audiences, younger audiences, and do it in ways that are very authentic to the platforms?” Trombetta said. “We don’t look to do things that are just content dumps.”
Snapchat says that viewership of NFL content increased 80% during the 2019-20 season, and that 90% of viewers were under the age of 35.
Of course, it’s going to be a strange season. Like other professional sports organizations, the NFL has to test its players for COVID-19, and different teams are taking different approaches toward allowing fans in the stadiums — many games will be taking place without fans at all.
“The [NFL] organization is leaning on us more than they ever had,” Trombetta said. “We didn’t ignore the fact of what’s happening, anyone would be crazy to think we could totally shut that off. There has to be an acknowledgement of it, while also finding new ways, very seamless ways for fans to engage and celebrate rituals around games that they’ve established over years and decades.”