Musical.ly Have Entered the Original Content Race

Variety
Snapchat, Twitter, Facebook, Musical.ly!? We've known for a while that there's a second, TV-focused battle happening alongside the ongoing social media arms race, as the big three scramble to snap up broadcasting rights and ink out deals with TV networks for new content. It's been tight thus far, and now there's a new contender, one that likely very few people would have expected - Musical.ly.

The video making/lip syncing network has been going strong for around two years now, with user figures well into the millions, but they're far from a major player. Despite this, they've made deals with Viacom, Hearst and NBCU, and made the promise that their content with stand out from the crowd because it will actually feature an interactive element.

Well, interactive might be strong word, the idea is that users will be responding to these short videos with content of their own, using hashtags to tether the call and the response together. It's quaint, but nothing ground-breaking. What's really worth paying attention to is the fact that Musical.ly haven't put any money down for this content, and in turn it won't be monetised in any way. No ads, no fees.

That may well change in the future, as this is really just a test to see if this kind of original content has the potential to become a central part of the platform, but for the time being it's certainly a respite from the ad interrupt laden worlds of Facebook and YouTube.

The shows are already being rolled out, with four already available. MTV have released two - shorter versions of Nick Cannon Presents Wild N' Out and Greatest Party Story Ever, while fashion mag Seventeen have produced the other two - 'Fashion to DIY For' and 'Seventeen in the City'. NBCU are working on one which will be released under their E! Entertainment banner.

All the shows are planned to run at 2-4 minutes per episode. Each new episode will appear in the trending section for 24 hours, but even after that they'll be accessible from the profile pages of the companies in question. Users will be able to respond, and view other responses through the app's hashtag page.

Musical.ly has a very young user base (too young, some have argued), and through that they've been able to carve out their own niche. The scale of their growth has been somewhat underestimated, and the fact that they're encroaching on territory which had formerly been dominated by the big hitters suggests that they've got big plans lined up. While Musical.ly might never experience the boom that Snapchat did, it's certainly a platform to keep an eye on.

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