Viacom Strikes Ad Deal With Millennial-Fave App Snapchat

Viacom scores coveted space in the app’s “Discover” spotlight, and Snapchat gets past the velvet rope at MTV’s Video Music Awards

Philippe Dauman

Viacom is cozying up with Snapchat, in a deal that will put more of its networks’ content in front of the popular vanishing-messages app’s young user base and turn the television company into an agent selling ad space there.

Viacom, which operates networks like MTV and Comedy Central, will score two more slots of prime Snapchat real estate spaces on the app’s Discover corner where select media companies show off their own content. In addition, Viacom will sell advertising on Snapchat’s behalf to its television marketers, which will run on some of the app’s popular “Stories,” like a ongoing roundup of everyday happenings in New York City.

Financial terms weren’t disclosed.

The deal was part of Viacom’s fourth-quarter earnings announcement Tuesday. Profit slid on weak performances in film and cable networks, as CEO Philippe Dauman called last year challenging. Dauman succeeded media mogul Sumner Redstone as chairman last week, a clear vote of confidence in his leadership from most of the company’s board.

The Snapchat agreement is one of the technological investments that Dauman said would help “redesign” Viacom to adapt to a changing television market. Viewers, especially the young ones that gravitate to many of Viacom’s channels and apps like Snapchat, are shifting their media diet from traditional TV to include more online entertainment. By pulling out their phones to watch content on YouTube or Netflix, the behavioral shift has pressured traditional TV ratings and widened defections from pay TV, as more households cut the cord.

Under the new Snapchat deal, the app Snapchat will expand Viacom’s Comedy Central channel to international markets and widen an MTV channel abroad to also appear in the U.S. Viacom will ratchet up the volume of video content for Discover, as well.

The agreement also grants Viacom the right to sell Snapchat’s U.S. owned and operated advertising inventory, making it simpler for its television advertisers to add Snapchat to their campaigns.

In exchange, Snapchat will get deeper access to Viacom tent pole events, such as MTV’s Video Music Awards.