NBC says $500M Snap investment part of becoming 'better, more digitally focused'

"The Rundown" is an entertainment news series the NBCU produces for the Snapchat platform.

NBCUniversal has poured a $500 million strategic investment into Snap’s IPO in its latest bit of funding for emerging digital media companies.

In a memo to employees obtained by Variety, NBCU CEO Steve Burke called the Snap investment part of the company’s strategy to invest in digital growth, which includes NBCU’s recent $400 million investment in BuzzFeed and $200 million investment in Vox.

“I am proud of the strides we have made in the digital space recently. With the Snap investment, we have invested over $1.5 billion in promising digital businesses in the last 18 months. Importantly, we have become a better, more digitally-focused company as a result,” wrote Burke in the memo.

Snap, the parent company of social media platform Snapchat, opened public trading Thursday at a $28 billion valuation.

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Prior to the investment, NBC had already been working with Snapchat on creating both addition and show format content. Addition format content includes the Snapchat material NBC had BuzzFeed help it create for the 2016 Summer Olympics, while the show format for NBC includes its five-week run of a The Voice spinoff and The Rundown, a weekly series that runs for 48 hours straight. Besides the new content that now exists for NBC, the network has also spun up teams to handle the production. The Rundown in particular has a dedicated production team operating out in Studio City that sometimes works alongside E!, a cable channel owned by NBCUniversal.

At the TV of Tomorrow conference in New York last November, Ron Lamprecht, executive vice president of Business Development and Digital Distribution for NBCUniversal talked about Snapchat and how, while monetization on the platform remains a challenge, NBC is benefiting from its work with the ephemeral social media service so far.

“For now, there’s a huge opportunity in learning about programming for the platform,” Lamprecht said.

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While much of the work NBCU has done with partners like Snapchat, BuzzFeed and Vox has been geared toward expanding its audience through use of digital platforms, NBCU has shown some willingness lately to also work with digital partners on more traditional, linear entertainment.

Last month, NBCU announced plans to produce a true crime series based on BuzzFeed News reporter Katie J.M. Baker’s reporting on the death of Jessica Chambers, a Mississippi teen who was burned to death in 2014.

“This is the perfect example of how BuzzFeed can extend the life of its content—be it serious journalism or entertaining videos—beyond the original social platforms where it was created,” said Matthew Henick, head of development for BuzzFeed, in a statement. “We’re excited to partner with Wilshire Studios and Joe Berlinger to bring Katie Baker’s impactful reporting to a new audience through this docu-series.”