Viacom agrees to deliver a new slate of shows to Snapchat

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'Girl Code' on Snapchat.
'Girl Code' on Snapchat. Credit: MTV via @GirlCode/Twitter

Viacom says it has renewed the Snapchat versions of "Girl Code" and "Cribs," a pair of MTV shows tweaked for the Snapchat audience, and is introducing an original program for the platform called "Promposal," about high-schoolers setting up elaborate prom date proposals. The shows are part of a broader committment by Viacom to produce new Snapchat content for company brands also including BET and Comedy Central.

Viacom declined to elaborate on the announcement, but it suggests that at least one media partner likes the return on the significant investment of time and money it takes to make even short-form programming for Snapchat. Not every company has been able to say the same: Last December, CNN abandoned its daily Snapchat show "The Update."

Snapchat has struck deals with a number of publishers and media companies to create a video service that's somewhat like cable TV for mobile apps, sharing the resulting ad revenue. There are channels curated by the publishers, which typically post fresh content every day; there is the Shows format, which is episodic just like TV; and there are Snapchat Stories, which are video montages from media companies around special events—the MTV Awards, for example.

Snapchat competes with Facebook's Watch video hub, Twitter and YouTube for these kinds of original shows that can draw viewers and open more digital ad inventory. As more young people flee TV, mobile platforms hope to fill the gap for brands still needing to reach those audiences.

Snapchat recently redesigned its app to separate the Discover media section from the personal messaging side, creating a distinct feed of content. That's where Shows, channels and Stories now appear, with ads running in between the content.

Viacom in 2016 struck its first Snapchat partnership, which included an exclusive ad sales relationship. Viacom was also allowed to offer ad space in other Snapchat programming, outside its own content.

Viacom no longer has those exclusive rights to sell Snapchat ads, but controls sales on its own Snapchat content, according to a source familiar with the arrangement.

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