Snapchat, Despite Redesign Woes, Keeps Adding Media Partners — Including Disney’s ‘Star Wars’

Snap’s stock has been pummeled, after the company reported lower-than-expected growth in Snapchat daily active users for Q1 following a widely unpopular app redesign. The company has also undergone a series of layoffs, cutting its workforce by 7%.

But none of that has deterred multiple media companies — for the time being, anyway — from eagerly joining the youth-skewing social platform.

The latest tie-up: Disney is going all-in on Snapchat for “May the Fourth” day, the annual celebration of all things Star Wars. Starting Friday, Snapchat users worldwide will be able to access a new selfie lens — to transform themselves into Chewbacca — and decorate their posts with Star Wars Day filters and Bitmoji stickers.

In addition, Star Wars is taking over the Snap Map: All Snapchat users who share their location in the app will see their avatar wielding a lightsaber. For real Star Wars nerds, there’s a new 3D Bitmoji lens that will let your avatar learn how to speak Wookiee from none other than Chewbacca himself (pictured above).

Also upping its Snapchat game is NowThis, Group Nine Media’s video-news division. On Thursday, Now This announced “NowBreaking,” a new breaking-news program produced exclusively for Snapchat slated to debut on Snapchat’s Discover page in June 2018. That will join NowThis’s Publisher Story on Snapchat Discover, which launched in 2016.

“Our partners at Snapchat uniquely understand how a mobile-first audience consumes content,” said Tina Exarhos, chief content officer of NowThis.

This summer, Group Nine’s Thrillist plans to bow a travel channel on Snapchat Discover, stocked with explainer videos, travel tips from locals around the world and “spontaneous flight deals.”

Other recent media partners: Viacom just inked a broad renewal with Snapchat for multiple shows from its networks, including MTV’s “Girl Code,” “Cribs” and “Promposal.” Condé Nast announced the renewal of its Snapchat Show “True Crime/Uncovered” for a second season, after happily reporting that the first three segments of season 1 drew over 10 million viewers worldwide — and plans four additional shows in the works. Also, Refinery29 touted the launch of tutorial series “Beauty Evolution,” its first-ever Snapchat Show, at its NewFronts this week.

The new and expanded partnerships are — for now — a vote of confidence in the new Snapchat design.

Snapchat averaged 191 million daily active users worldwide in Q1 of 2018. That was up just 2% from the prior quarterly, fueling concerns over users fleeing the platform. But Snapchatters remain highly engaged, with users visiting the app on average about 25 times per day for a total of 30 minutes.

The move by Snap is intended to more clearly delineate content (from influencers and partners like Disney and NowThis) from users’ personal communications with friends. But the new version, rolled out across the user base in the first quarter, prompted an immediate backlash and Snap has acknowledged it will take some time for things to stabilize.

That said, some media companies have dialed down their Snapchat investments. For example, CNN in December canceled its daily news show for the platform, “The Update,” after just four months as it reconsiders its approach to Snapchat.

In announcing earnings Tuesday, Snap CEO Evan Spiegel asserted that the company will double down on the redesign philosophy, although he admitted there’s still plenty of work to be done.

“Our redesign created some headwinds in our revenue this quarter by disrupting user behavior and creating some apprehension among our advertising partners,” Spiegel said on Snap’s earnings call.

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