Snapchat Orders Original Shows From BuzzFeed, Bunim/Murray

Snap Originals Show Posters - Publicity - H 2019
Courtesy of Snap Inc.

Three Snapchat Originals — reality series 'Endless Summer,' docuseries 'Deep Creek' and scripted show 'The Dead Girls Detective Agency' — have been renewed.

Snapchat is doubling down on its Original Shows strategy.

The messaging app on Thursday morning unveiled a new slate of original scripted and serialized unscripted shows, as well as a handful of renewals.

The batch of 10 shows features six new scripted projects, including New Form's Two Sides, which highlights the differing perspectives of a couple going through a breakup; sci-fi series Commanders from Dakota Pictures; the sneaker culture-focused Sneakerheads from Indigo and EMJAG Productions; and the novel adaptation Denton's Death Date from Insurrection Media.

Unscripted series include BuzzFeed's currently untitled daily show, which will catch viewers up on the latest in entertainment news; MK Asante's While Black, a docuseries about racially charged social issues; and Bunim/Murray's Stranded With Sam and Colby, about two paranormal investigators who go off the grid in a Pennsylvania town.

The projects were announced from the stage during the keynote presentation for the Snap Partner Summit, during which CEO Evan Spiegel and a roster of top executives made the case for why Snapchat is more than just a messaging app.

"In 2019, mobile will surpass television in time spent for U.S. adults. This transformation is creating massive new opportunities," Sean Mills, Snap senior director of content,  said during the keynote. "But realizing this potential is not as simple as repurposing old content for new screens. Mobile storytelling has to be different because the way we use our phones is so different."

Snapchat began offering vertically shot, shortform shows from partners in 2016 and, in late 2018, it introduced its first batch of Snapchat Originals, focused on serialized reality and scripted programming. Of that early slate of projects, three renewals were announced Thursday: Endless Summer, starring Summer McKeen and Dylan Jordan, which reached over 28 million unique viewers during its first season; the docuseries Deep Creek; and The Dead Girls Detective Agency, which has been renewed through its fourth season.

"Snapchat is a place where you connect with your closest friends," said Snap director of originals programming Vanessa Guthrie. "It's personal and intimate, and our originals tell stories in the very same way."

The new Snapchat Originals will begin streaming on Snapchat in May on the Discover platform.

In addition to new content, the daylong West Hollywood event, featuring 400-plus partners and parents, revealed details of new products that partners in particular will be able to take advantage of. But first, Spiegel reiterated that he thinks of Snap as a camera company above all else. "Cameras have changed a lot over the years," he said. "In the past, cameras were clunky pieces of hardware you wore around your neck to document special occasions. Today, cameras are software, a window into the way that we experience the world."

The eight-year-old company began as a place for sending and receiving disappearing messages. Although its focus has evolved, it hasn't grown as large as expected, ending the year with $1.18 billion in revenue and 186 million daily active users. While Snapchat would like to get bigger (and a new Android app is expected to help), Spiegel spent part of his keynote highlighting the strengths of the company's audience, including the fact that it now reaches 90 percent of 13- to 24-year-olds in the U.S., more than Facebook or Instagram.

One of the ways Snapchat will continue to provide its worth to users is by offering products and experiences that keep them hooked on the app. Many people come to Snapchat to talk to their friends, but the company is now giving them other things to do while they're there as well. Content found on the Discover platform is key to that strategy.

Among the other announcements was the new platform that will allow third-party apps like Tinder and Houseparty to integrate Stories. Fitbit and Venmo, meanwhile, will bring Snapchat's animated Bitmoji characters to their apps. Snap also is updating its Lens Studio, which allows people to create those augmented-reality experiences on their cameras, to include templates for landmarks like Buckingham Palace and the Eiffel Tower.

"As we use the internet more and more in our daily lives, we need a way to make it a bit more human," Spiegel noted. "The Snapchat camera allows people to use computing in their natural environment, the real world."