Nation & World

Snapchat launches original TV shows

Series are tailored to mobile audiences

Snap/Indigo

A promotional image is shown for the upcoming Snap Original series “Dead Girls Detective Agency.”
Snap/Indigo A promotional image is shown for the upcoming Snap Original series “Dead Girls Detective Agency.”

Fall is here and the curtain is going up on new TV shows, ranging from mystery stories with young female tech-savvy crime-solvers to reality shows following the lives of emerging drag queens and social media stars.

You might expect to find such fare on the CW or an edgy, youth-oriented cable channel. Instead, they are among more than a dozen new programs from the company behind the video file sharing app Snapchat.

Starting Wednesday, Santa Monica-based Snap Inc. is plunging into the fiercely competitive arena of scripted programming, in another sign of how digital media is looking more like television.

The goal is to attract more advertiser dollars and keep its fickle, young audience engaged.

Viewers need only five minutes to watch one of the app’s original serialized offerings that come from such established names as Mark and Jay Duplass and “Riverdale” writer Tessa Leigh Williams.

Every series will have a continuing storyline and premiere a new episode daily to keep viewers hooked — unlike shared photos and videos, the series will remain on the platform after their runs.

But the real cliffhanger is whether the shows can help turn around the fortunes of Snap, which has struggled in its quest to reach profitability by 2019.

Despite double-digit revenue growth, Snap posted a $353 million net loss in the second quarter and has seen its stock price sink more than 50 percent since the start of the year.

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The number of daily active users for the app dropped 2 percent from the first quarter to 188 million after the latest redesign of the app. Analyst Michael Nathanson of MoffettNathanson said in a research note Tuesday that the company may need a new round of funding next year or risk running out of cash.

Presenting a slate of short-form shows — called Snap Originals — that carry two six-second commercials per episode at least should help the app capitalize on advertiser demand for video ads online.

Research company EMarketer projects that ad spending on digital video will grow nearly 30 percent to $27.82 billion in 2018.

Snapchat is projected to have about 1 percent of that pie with $397 million in ad revenue this year, up 17 percent from 2017, according to EMarketer.

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