Snapchat launches original series as search for daily active user growth becomes desperate

Snapchat's new slate of original programming includes "The Dead Girls Detective Agency." (Snapchat)

Snapchat is launching its own short-form original content as the company hopes to accelerate its profitability and daily active user growth.

Snap Originals will be available on the Discover page to Snapchat users globally, and every show will have a dedicated profile page. Each episode will average about five minutes in length and brands can purchase six-second, nonskippable ads within the shows.

“Over the last two years, our highly engaged and loyal audience has helped to define what mobile content should look like—vertical, hypervisual and paced in a way that draws you in quickly and makes you want to return,” said Nick Bell, Snap’s vice president of content, in a statement. “We’re proud to be working with some of the industry’s most talented storytellers to bring new and innovative Shows to our community and are thankful to be extending our partnerships with NBCUniversal and Viacom to create even more content for Snapchatters worldwide.”

Snapchat has tapped Bunim/Murray Productions, the Duplass Brothers’ DBP Donut and Brad Weston’s Makeready for its initial batch of original shows. The first shows will be a mix of scripted and docuseries. The company announced six shows and said that another six have already been greenlit for production.

In addition to its originals, Snap also announced NBCUniversal extended its content production commitments through 2019, and Viacom has committed to creating 10 new Snap Originals. Viacom also committed to syndicating at least 500 episodes of its network’s shows to the Snapchat audience.

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The question remains whether Snapchat’s new original content strategy can help the company achieve its financial goals. In a leaked internal memo acquired by Cheddar last week, Snap CEO Evan Spiegel said he wants his company to break even in the fourth quarter and then hit full-year profitability in 2019.

Media analyst Michael Nathanson remained skeptical about Snap meeting its lofty goals of accelerating revenue growth and achieving full-year positive free cash flow and profitability

“In order to come anywhere close to these outcomes, Snap will have to find a way to accelerate DAU growth in existing markets, successfully launch an Android-based app in developing markets and slash a third of its cost base. While Snap is trying to do the impossible, Facebook is ramping Stories usage and monetization across its massive installed base,” Nathanson wrote in a research note.

In its most recent quarter, Snap reduced its net loss by 20% to $353 million, compared to a net loss of $443 million in the second quarter of 2017. The company is due to announce its third-quarter earnings later this month.