Snapchat’s latest scramble: Original scripted shows
Snap announced 12 scripted shows on Snapchat Wednesday in an effort to spark a renewed interest in the app as it hemorrhages users and money.
The company lost nearly $250 million and 3 million daily users last quarter, and it’s gambling on these new original shows to build on the success of the content already available on the Snapchat Discover page. Viewership of its existing shows has tripled this year, according to the release.
“Over the last two years, our highly engaged and loyal audience has helped to define what mobile content should look like — vertical, hyper-visual and paced in a way that draws you in quickly and makes you want to return,” Nick Bell, Snap’s vice president of content, said in a statement. “We’re proud to be working with some of the industry’s most talented storytellers to bring new and innovative Shows to our community.”
The new shows have staggered debuts over the next several months, starting Wednesday, according to the company. Snap collaborated with some big-name Hollywood producers and writers on its original content — a writer from “Friday Night Lights,” a top producer on “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” and the Duplass brothers.
The results are wide-ranging but familiar: a docuseries about a young influencer couple living in Laguna Beach, a drama about college roommates who run a true crime podcast, a supernatural soap opera, a short horror anthology. There will be new episodes daily, but they’ll be short, averaging five minutes each, to stay ideal for mobile viewing. Brands can purchase ad slots within the episodes through the app’s six second, non-skippable ad format, according to the release.
Users can find the shows on the Discover page or through the search bar. Soon each show will have its own dedicated page. Six additional shows have been greenlighted, and Viacom has signed on to make 10 shows.
Snap isn’t the only company making the jump to scripted shows. YouTube is branching into scripted series in its international markets to try to corral new customers for its subscription services. It has already released a few original shows in South Korea and one in India. Apple has ordered 17 original series, including one about Kevin Durant’s childhood and an animated series from the creator of “Bob’s Burgers” but has faced internal struggles. None of its shows have release dates.
In September, a leaked memo from Snap chief executive Evan Spiegel gave insight into the company’s struggles to compete with platforms like Instagram and Facebook that adopted its “stories” feature, as well as its struggles to recover from a rushed redesign. Spiegel wrote that the company had a “stretch goal” of breaking even in the fourth quarter of 2018.