Snapchat Debuts 30 Original Shows but Metrics Still a Mystery

In the wake of Instagram copying one of its most popular features, Stories, Snapchat pivoted to original video content, believing it crucial to the company’s long-term success. To produce this content, Snapchat turned to numerous television networks, including A+E Networks, Discovery, ESPN, NBCUniversal and Turner (owner of CNN, TBS and TNT). NBCUniversal, which invested $500 million in Snap’s IPO, is particularly bullish on Snapchat Shows. But Snapchat doesn’t reveal metrics, raising questions about the success of Shows.

Engadget, which reports that The Wall Street Journal says that Snapchat is also in conversations with CBS and Fox, notes that, “Snapchat appears confident that it has the perfect formula for viable mobile-first, short-form video programming.”

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The company has launched 30 series for a total of over 500 episodes in about a year. NBCUniversal, for example, introduced “Stay Tuned” — “a twice-daily news show created from the ground up with Snapchat users in mind.” The two-to-five minute episodes are shot in portrait mode for smartphone viewing, and NBCUniversal says that, “the show has garnered more than 29 million viewers since its debut.”

Engadget notes “that number, however, needs to be taken with a grain of salt” because Snapchat doesn’t provide metrics such as monthly active users, “user watch time and series retention stats, so it’s hard to know what exactly qualifies as a ‘viewer’.”

Although Snap reports that “Stay Tuned” has “more than 4 million subscribers,” the number is small given that Snapchat has 178 million daily active users. Snap revealed that, “more than 60 percent of the people who watch ‘Stay Tuned’ are under 25 years old.”

ESPN also recently debuted a “mobile-focused version of its flagship TV news program, ‘Sports Center’,” for Snapchat that, similar to “Stay Tuned,” features “vertical scenes, large text overlays and GIFs,” as well as upbeat young hosts. ESPN “declined to share viewer stats … citing Snap’s reservation about releasing usage data to external parties.”