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Snapchat built a livestreaming video feature — but it’s for the Olympics, not for regular users

Snap is full of video, but it’s never streamed live video before.


Snapchat built a new feature for streaming live video inside the app — you just won’t be able to use it.

That’s because the feature, which is just called Live, is only for Snapchat’s publishing partners at launch, according to a company spokesperson. First up: NBC, which is going to use the live video feature to show live coverage from the winter Olympics, which start next week in South Korea.

Snap announced Wednesday that NBC will stream some live broadcast footage directly to Snapchat’s Discover section. The footage you’ll see inside Snap is the same stuff you’ll see from NBC on television, but much, much shorter: Each live segment inside Snapchat will be somewhere between two and six minutes.

That means Snapchat won’t be your place to watch full Olympics coverage, of course. Just snippets. But NBC is very protective of its video rights around the Olympics and doesn’t usually stream them anywhere besides NBC-owned properties. Snapchat is not NBC-owned, but NBCUniversal did invest $500 million in Snap when the company went public last year. So there are incentives.

Beyond the Olympics, though, the live feature is interesting for Snap because it probably means Snapchat will stream other stuff live in the future, something it’s never done before. Snap is full of video, but it has never been a place for live, appointment video.

A few other logistics about the NBC arrangement:

  • The livestreams are part of a broader Olympics deal between Snap and NBC, which includes NBC sharing other Olympics highlights inside the app using other features, like Stories. That arrangement calls for a revenue split on advertising sold alongside that content, but the live feeds won’t include ads.
  • The live videos will be deleted from the app after they are done streaming. So if you miss the small window where NBC is live, you’ll have to go watch somewhere else (like TV).

The first livestream is set to air on Feb. 10.

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