- Snap, the parent company of video-messaging platform Snapchat, has formed a joint venture NBCUniversal to produce original scripted shows for mobile viewing, Variety reported. Lauren Anderson, who has served as NBC Entertainment's senior vice president of current programming, will be its chief content officer.
- The new studio, which doesn't have a name yet, will work with a handful of creative partners, signing its first deal with indie filmmakers Mark and Jay Duplass' creative shop Donut, per Ad Age.
- The Duplass brothers have about a half-dozen concepts for scripted and unscripted shows in genres like comedy, drama, horror and documentary. While the deal with the new studio doesn't specify how many series will be produced, they're aiming for 8-10 minute episodes with the first series to debut in 2018, Variety said.
The joint venture between Snap and NBCUniversal is another sign that Hollywood is taking notice of the growing importance of mobile media and the changing viewing habits of audiences, particularly younger generations that are harder to reach through TV. Unlike Facebook and other digital platforms, Snap lets NBCUniversal sell advertising against the content it distributes on Snapchat, making the platform more appealing for content producers and advertisers, per Variety.
Teens also prefer Snapchat to any other social media platform, according to the latest version of a closely-watched survey of the age group by investment bank Piper Jaffray. Forty-seven percent of teens said Snapchat is their favorite social platform, up 12 percentage points from a year earlier. Only 24% of teens indicated Instagram was best. Streaming video continued to grow in popularity as well, while traditional TV declined 2% from last fall, the study said.
NBCUniversal has been a close partner to Snap, investing $500 million in the company when it went public in March with a market value of about $24 billion. Since then, Snap has lost value after reporting two quarters of disappointing user growth. While the new studio joint venture is separate from NBCUniversal's earlier investment, the media giant appears to be committed to fostering Snapchat's development as a mobile content and advertising platform. The strong presence of young consumers and especially Gen Z on Snapchat will continue to make it an appealing target for marketers despite generally stagnant growth in other areas.
NBCUniversal isn't the only company producing shows for Snapchat, whose roster of content providers now includes ESPN, the NFL, ABC, BBC, A+E Networks, Discovery Networks, Turner, Vice, CBS and others. Snap is building out its original scripted series at the same time that rival Facebook is ramping up efforts with Watch, a tab for premium video content that launched in August and is quickly snapping up new properties.