Popular entertainment social network Musical.ly is in talks with media companies including Viacom and NBCUniversal to make original programming, according to people familiar with the matter (via Bloomberg).
The company is said to be seeking content for its music video sharing platform that is "participatory and interactive" rather than feeling heavily produced, with a view to broadening its appeal beyond music, to potentially include comedy and sports.
Founded in August 2014, Musical.ly has surged in popularity among U.S. teenagers, and claims over 100 million users globally. The app allows users to filter, edit, and broadcast short video clips with song snippets, some of which are provided by Apple Music as part of a licensing deal in exchange for promoting the streaming service within the app. The Shanghai company also owns live streaming app Live.ly, group video chat Squad, and video messaging app Pingpong.
Musical.ly follows Facebook, Snap, Twitter, YouTube, and Apple in the race to produce original video programming online, with digital companies seeking to aggressively compete in the growing digital media market.
NBCUniversal has already partnered with Musical.ly for the 2017 Billboard Latin Music Awards and is reportedly in talks with the startup to develop more Hispanic-focused entertainment. Hearst's Seventeen magazine also recently announced its intention to make a video series focused on fashion and beauty for Musical.ly.
In related news, Musical.ly is set to launch a new feature next week that will allow users to create face masks, similar to the lenses or filters used on Snapchat and now Instagram, according to the people who spoke to Bloomberg. Called Face.ly, the feature will be like Bitmoji, which lets users create animated avatars of themselves. The long-term plan involves Face.ly becoming a separate app, if the feature proves popular with teens.