NBCUniversal, Snap to Open New Studio for Mobile Content

NBCUniversal and Snap plan to open a production studio to create original content for mobile devices. Mark and Jay Duplass, who formed creative agency Donut to produce programming for new platforms, will be the first creators for the studio. NBC News already produces “Stay Tuned,” a twice-daily newscast distributed on Snapchat, which drew 29 million unique viewers in its first month. Former NBC Entertainment executive Lauren Anderson will head the new NBCUniversal-Snap studio, to be based in Santa Monica.

The Los Angeles Times reports that, “NBCUniversal has developed a number of programs for Snapchat, as advertisers are seeking to reach younger viewers who are not easily reached by conventional broadcast and cable TV services.”

“As mobile audiences continue to grow, we’re excited to expand the type of content we can develop,” said Anderson. Snapchat reports it “reached 173 million users worldwide in the second quarter this year.”

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In addition to “Stay Tuned,” NBCUniversal “also used Snapchat as a platform to distribute Olympics-related content created by the digital media company BuzzFeed during the 2016 Summer Games,” a partnership that will “resume … during the 2018 Winter Games in South Korea.”

Variety reports that the studio will be “50-50 owned by Snap and NBCU,” and focus on mobile content, which Snap head of content Sean Mills called “a new medium.” The new, as-of-yet unnamed studio “will be overseen by Mills and Maggie Suniewick, president of NBCUniversal Digital Enterprises.”

In addition to “Stay Tuned,” the two companies have partnered on other Snapchat content: E!’s “The Rundown,” and an offshoot of “The Voice,” which got an Emmy nomination. NBCUniversal is also drawn to the fact that Snap “unlike Facebook and other digital platforms, lets the media company sell advertising against the content it distributes on Snapchat.”

Neither company would “disclose the level of investment” in the studio or “how many staffers they expect to bring on board under Anderson’s purview.” The Duplass brothers say they plan on creating 8- to 10-minute episodes, with their first series to debut in 2018. The deal “doesn’t specify a total number of series or amount of content” they will produce.

With regard to content, Mark Duplass says the companies are “wildly trusting” — but he still has concerns about producing video for digital mobile distribution. “If we’re going to do something, I hope it’s additive — and it’s something people will come to watch,” he said. The Duplass brothers were drawn to the offer because they were assured “that their work would be featured as part of a select group of creators.”

Companies creating content for Snapchat include “NBC, ESPN, the NFL, ABC, BBC, A+E Networks, Discovery Networks, Turner, Scripps Networks, Vertical Networks, Vice, MGM Television, and CBS.