The two had spent more than a minute in front of each other before the first word was spoken.
“Why did you cheat on me?” the girl asked, seated on a white chair with a white wall behind her and a white floor below.
The boy, seated in an identical white chair, replied, “It was the stupidest thing I could have ever done.”
This moment was the start of Second Chance, a relationship-crisis show where couples reconnect to decide if they should give it another try. I was in A&E’s studio at 45th & Dean in Brooklyn, where I watched about an hour of taping. While that confrontation was what the studio execs and I first heard, there’s a chance that’s not how it begins for viewers. Later, the segment would be cut down to just under 5 minutes.
Second Chance is one of the most watched shows on Snapchat Discover, the app’s growing network of media partners, which attracts an average of 7 million viewers per episode. CNN pulled its channel, other networks have yet to jump in, and users are protesting a redesign — but regardless, A&E is debuting the second season of Second Chance on Wednesday. Episodes will air every Wednesday at 6 a.m. and run for 12 weeks. Below, we’ve got an exclusive clip of the first episode:
For A&E, the Snapchat show has been a lesson in the fact that dramas don’t need to be 30 minutes or longer to resonate, especially with a younger audience.
“What we learned in storytelling is you can achieve that in four and a half minutes,” said Vedia Ayvaz, head of creative at A&E Networks. “The linear [TV] folks tell us, ‘Wow you guys have nailed it.’ It’s satisfying in just four and a half minutes.”
TV networks admiring and investing in Snapchat shows is exactly what Snap wants to hear. Discover started out as a network with dozen media partners, mostly digital-first media outlets. Since then, it’s added newspapers, magazines, and more recently, Hollywood studios. (Mashable is a Discover partner.)
Snapchat’s requirements include vertical-only, short-form, and exclusive content, which can all sound quite intimidating to partners more commonly known for hour-long dramas made for TV. A&E, which already had relationships with Facebook and YouTube, started pitching to Snapchat in about mid-2016. Among “a lot of concepts” was the idea for a reality dating show, but in reverse. Second Chance wouldn’t be blind dates. Rather, it’s rekindling exes who never had closure.
In the studio, I found myself switching sides between the exes.
“For us, it really was about the couples and their stories. We tried to pull all our attention and focus on that. This is not heavily produced at all. We really allowed all the exes to come together and explore the end of this relationship,” Ayvaz said.
In the studio, I found myself switching sides between the exes. He cheated on her, yes. But she pushed him away. She said he didn’t focus on her. He said he did, and she didn’t let loose. There’s a lot to unpack in every relationship, and you don’t know who to trust. I thought I knew what the decision was going to be after spending an afternoon watching the exes from backstage — and yet, in the end, I was wrong. But that’s all part of the drama.
“They give you a sense of whether they’d like a second chance or not and then you go in, and there are so many surprises. That’s part of the magic,” Ayvaz said.
Snapchat users have loved it. Search for “second chance” and “snapchat” on Twitter this week and you’ll find them debating giving the app a “second chance” post-redesign. There will also be users asking for a “second chance” to get back their Snap Steaks. But dig a little deeper, and you’ll see some people missing the weekly series:
I miss the Snap Chat subscription Second Chance 😩😂
— Dream🌀 (@dreamette_) January 25, 2018
A&E wants to cater to these obsessive fans. That’s part of the reason why they developed a partnership with Snapchat, where daily active users open the app more than 25 times per day and users who are younger than 25 spend an average 40 minutes on Snapchat a day.
“You’re reaching that young audience in droves and further developing a muscle you had as storytellers. It’s very rich R&D type of experience and when you add the potential for monetization, the potential for business success for both sides, it’s a natural extension,” said Sean Cohan, president of international and digital media for A+E Networks.
“The end of the day is a lot of people use Snapchat, a lot of young people.”
A&E isn’t the only one holding onto Snapchat, as others question its future. TBS recently launched a Snapchat show with comedian Conan O’Brien called Team Coco’s Comedy Club, featuring stand-up routines.
“We want to reach consumers wherever they are,” said Karina Kogan, SVP of digital media at TBS and TNT. “A lot of people use Snapchat, a lot of young people. The lion’s share of the audience is under 24, and that’s not an audience that we easily reach with that kind of precision elsewhere.”
The networks’ numbers are so far, so good, according to Kogan’s standards. The premiere episode of Team Coco got almost 400,000 subscribers.
Even with more shows joining Snapchat and crowding the Discover page, digital-first publishers are staying on as well. Bleacher Report, Turner’s sports and culture media company, has had a channel on the international version of Snapchat Discover since 2016. It joined the U.S. version in January 2017 and continues to create daily editions.
“One of the things we love about the platform is it’s really distinct. We can flex all of those different muscles,” said Jermaine Spradley, executive editor of Bleacher Report. “We wouldn’t to be on the platform if it didn’t make sense for business, but beyond that, more importantly, the audience on Snapchat neatly aligns with ours.”
Snapchat’s recent redesign separated friends, the messaging component of the app, from Discover, the page of media partners and creators. But partners like A&E, Turner, and Bleacher Report aren’t expressing too much concern. It’s up to them to make the content the attractive for the users to keep coming back.
“We’re excited about the Snapchat redesign,” said Cohan of A&E. “Hopefully it’ll be easier for Snapchatters to find the show.”