TikTok is taking another step towards directly funding publishers’ content with today’s announcement that it’s financially backing the production of media publisher NowThis’ new series, “VIRAL,” which will feature interviews with public health experts a live Q&A session focused on answering questions about the pandemic. The partnership represents TikTok’s first-ever funding of an episodic series from a publisher, though TikTok has previously funded creator content.
Through TikTok’s Instructive Accelerator Program, formerly known as the Creative Learning Fund, other TikTok publishers have received grants and hands-on support from TikTok to produce quality informative content TikTok’s #LearnOnTikTok initiative. Today, the program is structured as four, eight-week cycles during which publishers post videos four times per week.
NowThis had also participated in the Creative Learning Fund last year and was selected for the latest cycle of the Instructive Accelerator Program. But its “VIRAL” series is separate from these efforts.
NowThis says it brought the concept for the show to TikTok earlier this year outside of the accelerator program, and TikTok greenlit it. TikTok then co-produced the series and provided some funding. Neither NowThis nor TikTok would comment on the extent of the financial backing involved, however.
The “VIRAL” series is hosted by infectious disease clinical researcher Laurel Bristow, who spent the last year working on COVID treatments and research. Every Thursday, Bristow will break down COVID facts in easy-to-understand language, NowThis says, including things like vaccine efficacy, transmission timelines, and treatment. The show will also bust COVID myths, provide information about ongoing public health risks, and feature interviews with a cross-section of experts.
Each episode will be 45 minutes in length and will also include an interactive segment where the TikTok viewing audience can engage in a real-time Q&A session about the show’s content. In total, five episodes are being produced and will air starting on Thursday, April 15, at 6 PM ET and will run through Thursday, May 13 on the @NowThis main TikTok page.