MIPCOM: Snapchat Execs Talk Plans for NBCU Joint Venture

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Telenovelas on Snapchat? The app's senior director of content programming says he's "obsessed" with the idea as he discusses new shows under the NBC/Snapchat deal.

Following the announcement that Snapchat and NBCUniversal are teaming for an as-yet unnamed scripted content studio, Snap’s senior director of content programming Sean Mills on Tuesday discussed plans about how the companies will work together during his keynote at MIPCOM.

While Snapchat has produced 30 shows within the last year, they have all been in the unscripted space with content partners. “We love scarcity,” Mills said of working with a limited number of premium partners. “It’s not an open platform. We love the idea that it’s like television in the 1970s and bringing a huge audience to a small amount of content that fosters sharing.”

While they are open to exploring other lengths, “three to five minutes is our sweet spot,” said the exec, and vertical screen, graphics and split screens will be utilized.

“We try to take some of the DNA from how our audience tells stories and start to work with professional storytellers,” said Mills. Working with NBC, CBS and the BBC, among other content partners, has also been a beneficial lesson about how to make content.

The exec said he’s “obsessed” with the idea of a soap opera or telenovela-style show, and that comedy is also a focus.

The company is not framing itself as a Netflix competitor. “We're playing a very different game here,” Mills said of other platforms like Apple and Netflix. “We are not trying to be the highest bidder for programs that are being shopped around. We are going for deeper relationships with a select number of creators.”

Mills also brought on the newly appointed chief content officer Lauren Anderson to delve deeper into the Snap vision.

While much was still vague, Anderson told the MIPCOM audience that all of the content will be talent-driven, and they are looking to hire writers and directors that are open to telling a story in short bursts.

“There aren’t only 30- and 60-minute stories to tell,” he said. “Because this is a very new thing, we can build deep relationships with a select number of creators who have a point of view who get as excited as we do.”

NBC and Snap will be 50-50 partners in the new joint venture, and while he would not divulge budgets, Mills said that NBC’s vision requires “serious investment.”

The key, of course, for an app that is trying to become a media company after a rough IPO is that they’ll use their data to find their audience.  

“Use it to give you some raw sense, but it can’t drive you. It can be informative in terms of saying these are patterns and you can start to connect the dots so they can help shape an idea, a story,” said Anderson.