- Snapchat last week began streaming a show that lets viewers participate in solving a murder mystery through video content, Variety reported. "Solve" dramatizes a murder based on real events and lets viewers play detective by examining evidence before voting on who they think the killer is. The show then reveals the real culprit and the audience vote.
- The three- to four-minute episodes are posted every Wednesday and Saturday in Snapchat's Discover section, which shows professionally produced video, news and magazine content. Snapchat piloted "Solve" as a four-part miniseries in February and reached an audience of 10 million unique viewers, before turning it into a regular series.
- Elisabeth Murdoch's Vertical Networks mobile content studio produces "Solve" through its new Interactive Studio Division that's focused on combining video game elements with premium video entertainment. Vertical Networks produced 10 episodes of "Solve" and is currently casting another 40 roles for the next group of shows.
Snapchat's "Solve" demonstrates how TV producers are experimenting with programming for the social media era of even shorter user attention spans while providing an added level of interactivity with viewers on the social platform. The short-form episodes can be viewed in brief pockets of time as people check their social media accounts on the go and sift through posts from friends, family, social influencers and media companies. By blending in some gaming elements, "Solve" hopes to drive a greater level of engagement and return users.
Original short-form programming is a creative way for Snapchat to engage its audience, which mostly consists of younger adults and teens who use the platform to consume bite-sized media while interacting with friends. Parent company Snap is seeking additional ways to monetize its audience as its user growth plateaus, rising about 2% to 191 million in Q1 2018 from the prior three-month period. Snapchat last week started rolling out six-second video ads that can't be skipped in another attempt to appeal to paying advertisers.
Meanwhile, audiences have demonstrated an interest in true crime programs, ranging from series like "Dateline" to Netflix's "Making of a Murderer" to Sarah Koenig's "Serial" hit podcast. Condé Nast Entertainment in March posted a six-episode Snapchat show called "True Crime/Uncovered" that explores different mysteries and crimes, per Variety. Hollywood auteur Steven Soderbergh this year developed the HBO mini-series "Mosaic" that included a mobile app with choose-your-own-adventure format, according to Marketing Dive.