“Riverdale” writer Tessa Leigh Williams also contributes a show to Snap’s latest push beyond reality shows
Snap Inc. — aiming to move beyond a difficult year from both a Wall Street and user growth standpoint — unveiled Wednesday its slate of new scripted and unscripted original shows for Snapchat, with help from the Duplass brothers and, yes, even viral sensation Bhad Bhabie.
Three of the shows hit the app on Wednesday: “Endless Summer,” which follows Orange County social-media stars Summer Mckeen and Dylan Jordan as they navigate photoshoots, brand partnerships, and living on their own for the first time; “Class of Lies,” from “Riverdale” writer Tessa Leigh Williams, focuses on two college podcasters as they investigate the disappearance of their best friend; and “Co-Ed,” a Duplass-produced show where roommates Ginny and Chris deal with the gauntlet of surviving their freshman year of college.
The shows will fall under the “Snap Originals” umbrella, with “Class of Lies” and “Co-Ed” standing out as Snapchat looks to establish its scripted content credentials.
To this point, Snap has only dipped its toes in the scripted waters. It recently won two Emmys for “James Corden’s Next James Corden,” where the “Late Late Show” host led a fictional search to find his successor. But for the most part, Snapchat has emphasized unscripted series like “Phone Swap,” where two twentysomething blind daters exchange phones and cringe as the other person scans for dirt.
Two other scripted shows — “The Dead Girls Detective Agency” and “VHS,” standing for “video horror shorts” — are set to come out later this month. Snapchat shows will continue to have about a five-minute runtime, Sean Mills, Snap’s head of original content, told TheWrap.
Adding scripted series doesn’t mean Snap is moving away from its reality roots, though. Mills told TheWrap the company is doubling down on “docu-series” as it pushes into 2019.
Snapchat has partnered with Bunim/Murray Productions — the reality hitmaker behind “The Real World” and “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” — on “Endless Summer,” as well “Growing Up Is a Drag,” an upcoming show on the highs and lows of teenage drag queens.
Another series being filmed, “Bringing Up Bhabie,” follows rapper Danielle “Bhad Bhabie” Bregoli, best known for her infamous “cash me outside, how ’bout dah?” appearance on Dr. Phil.
But Snap hasn’t been focused simply on inking a few celebrities, Mills told TheWrap.
“Having a really compelling character and a really compelling story that’s relatable, that reads authentic to our audience, was more important than going out and trying to find deals with the biggest celebrities we can find,” Mills said. “Vivian,” an upcoming docuseries on the youngest modeling scout in Los Angeles, is one of the shows Mills expects to resonate with Snapchatters.
It appears Snap is in desperate need of “compelling” shows. 2018 has been rough on the company; Snapchat lost 3 million daily users during the second quarter — which CEO Evan Spiegel attributed partly to its failed app redesign — and had several top executives exit the company. It’s also routinely set new all-time lows on Wall Street, with Snap shares falling more than 50 percent since the start of 2018.
But at least from a content standpoint, Mills said there are reasons to be optimistic. He pointed to the 5 million daily viewers for “Stay Tuned,” NBC News’ twice daily newscast, as a positive sign. And the newscast’s audience is an advertiser’s dream, with more than 70 percent ranging between ages 13-24, is consistent with its other shows, Mills said.
The company is also looking to continue leveraging augmented reality with “Snap Portal,” a new feature that’ll allow viewers to swipe up and enter certain parts of its shows.
And when asked about outside competition, chiefly from Facebook-owned Instagram, Mills didn’t waver, saying Snap is “heads down” on its own shows.
“We have this year alone seen the time Snapchatters spend watching shows on the platform triple, in terms of time spent. There’s a lot of really positive momentum,” Mills said. “If we can see that depth of grow and engagement, we’re going to be in a good spot. That’s how we look at it.”
You can check out a quick sizzle for the shows below.