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NBCUniversal, Viacom Discussing Producing Original Shows for Musical.ly Video App (Report)

Variety logo Variety 5/19/2017 Todd Spangler
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Musical.ly, a startup that claims more than 200 million monthly users for its video-sharing apps, is planning to launch original programming on the service this summer and is in talks with media companies including Viacom and NBCUniversal on potential deals, Bloomberg reported.

The Bloomberg report, which cited anonymous sources, didn’t have details on specifically what kinds of content Musical.ly might be looking for except that the new shows may broaden its appeal beyond music into genres like sports and comedy. Reps for the companies declined to comment.

It’s not surprising that Musical.ly, whose U.S. operations are based in Santa Monica, Calif., would be looking to add professionally produced content to the user-generated videos that constitute to the core service.

Other social-media players have pursued similar strategies. Snapchat has teamed with several TV networks and studios to produce short-form content for its social-messaging app, and Twitter has cut a spate of live-streaming deals. Facebook is gearing up to license premium original content, as well, and just cut a deal with Major League Baseball to live-stream 20 games this season. All of the premium-video deals are aimed at attracting and retaining users — and, ultimately, serving them ads.

Musical.ly was founded in 2014 by friends Alex Zhu and Luyu Yang. The Shanghai-based company has raised about $16 million from investors including GGV Capital and Greylock Partners.

Separately, this week Musical.ly rolled out new augmented-reality feature called “Face.ly” that lets users take a selfie of themselves and then alter their eyes, nose, mouth, face, jaw and other facial features. To access the feature, Musical.ly users must open the camera page (in selfie mode), select “lenses,” then click “Face.ly” to configure the various face options.

Here are examples of what Face.ly selfies look like:

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