Snapchat Finds Out Creativity Isn’t as Easy as It Looks
Snapchat is getting out of the original content business. The company has permanently shut down its video hub, Snap Channel, and is laying off or reassigning the team of 15 employees responsible for developing and producing content for the social network.
In a way, the move, first reported by Deadline, comes as a surprise, considering the fanfare that accompanied Snapchat’s original announcement that it would dive into original programming. Among the social network’s high-profile hires at the time was Marcus Wiley, a former Fox comedy executive, who was brought on as Snapchat’s head of programming. Now, with the company shuttering Snap Channel, Wiley is leaving the company as well.
When Snapchat first revealed Snap Channel, it seemed that the company’s vision for its path forward was clear. It had jumped into the fray with its Discover short-form video platform just as video was becoming an “it” thing for everyone. Reddit and Vimeo were getting original video content into their offerings. Facebook and Twitter were launching native video platforms to make viewing content seamless (and to attract more users and advertisers). And smaller companies started to catch on, from Vine (six-second videos) to Vessel and Victorious (exclusive Internet celebrity content).
Snapchat, with its disappearing content and healthy audience of more than 100 million users, seemed like a natural fit for its own idiosyncratic version of video. In January, the company announced it would partner up with well-known publications like Vice and CNN to launch Discover, a hub that hosted short videos produced by those outlets. Today, even though ad rates have reportedly declined, the fact that the company is steadily adding Discover partners seems to show Snapchat lends itself well to live stories and news.
But the company may have miscalculated the appetite for original content on the platform—and the cost of producing it. The shuttering of Snap Channel is a reminder that producing original content is hard, no doubt especially so given the intentional limitations of Snapchat as a medium. Netflix may be killing it with its original programming, but the company has the advantage of working with traditional studios in more conventional, longer formats. Snapchat does say it hasn’t given up on original content entirely. But for now, original video on Snapchat was just a fleeting phenomenon, gone in a Snap.
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