- The New York Times stopped updating its Snapchat Discover channel and is currently working with the image-messaging company on developing new programming, Digiday reported. The newspaper started the channel in April 2017 to showcase stories, video and crossword puzzles. Its last update on Discover, Snapchat's platform for content producers, was on Dec. 21.
- The Times had 10 people working on the channel after devoting 20 to its initial launch. The newspaper didn't provide a reason for halting its updates. Snapchat's parent company Snap is having discussions with the Times about creating something new for the app, a Snap spokesperson told Digiday.
- The companies split revenue from advertising on Snapchat Discover, but they declined to discuss their sales-sharing agreement. Some publishers divide ad revenue evenly with Snap while others have deals that include a guaranteed payment, per Digiday.
The Times stepping back from Snapchat points to the ongoing challenges publishers are having pinpointing a content strategy that works on the platform, which offers a coveted audience of younger consumers but has a unique use case built around visual messaging that disappears after a set period of time.
News content is popular on social media but the Times and other content providers have had occasionally rocky relationships with social media companies. Snap, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest provide a way for traditional media companies to expand their reach among new audiences, but often at the cost of cannibalizing digital ad revenue. The percentage of Americans who get news from social media was 68% last year, little changed from the 67% observed in 2017, according to survey by Pew Research Center. Facebook is the most popular platform for news, as 43% of U.S. adults get their news from the social network, ahead of Google’s YouTube (21%), Twitter (12%), Instagram (8%), LinkedIn (6%), Reddit (5%) and Snapchat (5%).
The New York Times had partnered with Snapchat to reach young readers on mobile, saying at the time of launch that 37% of its 125 million monthly cross-platform readers were in Snapchat's core audience range of 18- to 34-year-olds. The publisher is clearly now rethinking that approach. However, as Snapchat has seen its user base steady, the Times still seems interested in creating some type of content or product for the platform.
The Times is more focused on growing subscription revenue as its print and digital sales slow or decline. Its display print advertising fell 5.8% to $269.1 million last year from 2017, while digital ad sales nudged upward by 1.7% to $202 million. The newspaper’s subscription revenue grew 3.4% to more than $1 billion as its subscriber base grew to 4.3 million among digital and print products, per an announcement. Meanwhile, listenership to its "The Daily" podcast reached 5 million monthly listeners by July 2018, only a few months after launch, potentially pointing to a growing source of revenue.
Like the Times, CNN has had difficulty with its Snapchat offerings. It stopped publishing on Snapchat in December 2017 after being an initial launch partner almost three years earlier. The news network began airing a Snapchat Show called "The Update" in mid-2018, but canceled it after four months. CNN in September rejoined Snapchat as a launch partner for the breaking news tool called Curated Our Stories.
Some media partners have developed a steady audience on Snapchat. NBC News started streaming "Stay Tuned" in July 2017 on Snapchat Discover and now draws between 25 million and 35 million unique viewers a month. Two-thirds of that group don't read or watch other NBC News content, according to Comscore data cited by Digiday.