The companies will work together to create scripted programming, Variety reported, exclusively for the mobile app Snapchat, with the help of a collection of creative partners. The venture’s first deal was signed with the indie film duo Mark and Jay Duplass.
Snap’s head of content, Sean Mills told the magazine: “We fundamentally believe that mobile is a new medium”, adding that “because that creative process is so unique, we felt there was a need for a fully dedicated entity focused on that”.
The studio, which is yet to be named will be overseen by both Mills and NBCUniversal Digital Enterprises president, Maggie Suniewick.
Both companies have been working together in recent months as part of Snapchat’s efforts to champion original content for its platform, a move that saw it host content from NBC among other companies.
“This digital content studio is an extension of our already strong partnership and an opportunity to develop new IP (intellectual property) and franchises for a mobile-first audience,” Suniewick said in comments reported by Adweek.
The race for original content among social media platforms is heating up. Facebook said in an earnings call earlier this year that it is planning to spend as much as $1bn on original shows. Apple also indicated that it would be spending a similar amount in the coming year.
As the Wall Street Journal suggested, Snap’s more modest finances have meant that it has been going after media companies with its specific offer. From an advertising perspective, Variety noted Snap’s practice of allowing media companies to sell advertising against the content they distribute on the platform.
This is not, however, the beginning of the two companies' relationship. At Snap’s initial public offering, NBCU invested $500m in the platform.
According to figures put out by eMarketer, this could prove a canny move for NBC, as forecasts suggest that Snapchat will steal many of Facebook and Instagram’s 12-17 year-old and 18-24 year-old users in the coming year. However, the social network giant has consistently proved its ability to grow despite earlier suggestions that teens were emigrating from the platform, Recode argued.
For film-makers, the challenges are varied but the opportunities are great. Mark Duplass told Variety that the pair were “definitely thinking about their user base, what would appeal to their core group of users, who are essentially millennials”.
In addition, the joint venture has been “wildly trusting” of the brothers, with a lot of creative freedom. “They let us know in no uncertain terms, ‘You go be you’.”
Sourced from Variety, Wall Street Journal, Recode; additional content by WARC staff