Venice’s Snapchat has permanently shut down its division for original content, known as Snap Channel, and laid off 15 of the group’s employees.
The move represents the temporary messaging service’s largest layoff in its four-year history. It comes as the company has been adding and dropping media partners within its Discover portal, an app feature that allows select outlets to push disappearing articles, pictures and videos.
Snap Channel featured content produced by Snapchat, including a scripted drama named “Literally Can’t Even.” In a statement, a spokeswoman said the company viewed the channel as an experiment.
Creating content for Snapchat isn’t easy, said Steven Kydd, co-founder of Tastemade, a Santa Monica food and travel media company that distributes content within the Discover portal.
Because Snapchat videos are viewed vertically, rather than horizontally as in traditional TV programming, the production process is much different.
“In order to succeed in vertical you have to throw away your thinking about creating horizontal videos,” said Kydd. “We actually built a new set that is 100 percent focused on capturing everything in vertical.”
Tastemade has gone so far as to turn its cameras sideways, reconfigure its editing software and change the way it plans video shoots.
Tastemade has honed its food and travel content on YouTube, Facebook and Instagram over the past three years, giving the company a point of reference for its Discover content.
Though it didn’t find production costs amenable to its bottom line, Snapchat said in a statement that it might attempt original content again. But for now, the team working on Snap Channel will depart, including former Fox Broadcasting Co. Senior Vice President of Comedy Marcus Wiley, who led the effort as head of program planning and development.
That leaves Snapchat, co-founded by Evan Spiegel, to tinker with its lineup of third-party content channels. In July, the company booted Yahoo Inc. and Warner Music Group from Discover and replaced them with BuzzFeed and iHeartRadio Inc. Last week, it added women’s lifestyle media company Refinery29 and in the coming months it reportedly has plans to add political news content from Vox Media Inc.
Publishers on Discover give Snapchat 30 percent of revenue they earn from selling ads on the platform or 50 percent revenue for advertisements that Snapchat sells on their behalf. With advertising sales active for about 11 months now, Snapchat has reached a valuation of $16 billion.
In a blow to owners of copyrighted video content and a victory for their parodists, a judge this week has mostly denied Jukin Media’s unfair-use lawsuit against Equals Three, popular YouTuber Ray William Johnson’s Beverly Hills production company.
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