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Vice to Produce Original Snapchat Shows, Starting With Action Bronson’s Dating Series

Snapchat continues to beef up its lineup of premium short-form shows: Snap Inc. and Vice Media have struck an expanded deal under which Vice will produce shows exclusively for Snapchat.

The first show under deal is “Hungry Hearts with Action Bronson,” a dating series hosted by rapper-chef Action Bronson (whose real name is Arian Asllani) developed by Viceland. The eight-episode show will hit Snapchat later in 2017, expected to be distributed in English-speaking countries.

Vice was a global launch partner for the Snapchat Discover platform in 2015, with content on the channel spanning breaking news and lifestyle programming featuring musicians, artists, innovators and personalities.

For Snap, the pact illustrates its appetite to serve more content — and ads — to the millennial-skewing users of its disappearing-message app. The company last week launched the second season of Snapchat-produced political show from Peter Hamby, “Good Luck America,” and has cut a string of deals with media companies for shows including including ABC, NBC, the BBC, Turner, the New York Times, Discovery CommunicationsA+E Networks and Time Inc.

Snapchat emphasizes that its original mobile shows aren’t repurposed from other programming. While they may be based on other franchises (like NBC’s “Saturday Night Live”), they’re designed to be original, standalone shows. Snapchat’s shows encompass documentaries, reality TV, scripted and unscripted formats, comedies and dramas.

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“Hungry Hearts with Action Bronson” was developed by Vice’s Viceland cable TV group. In the Snapchat show, the rotund Bronson — who hosts Viceland food/travel show “F*ck, That’s Delicious” — adds a new title to his resume: matchmaker. In each episode, he will arrange dining dates for potential paramours and provide a play-by-play of events. Bronson will then offer his prediction about whether they’ll be going on a second date, before the couples ultimately reveal their decision.

Vice positioned the expanded deal with Snap as part of the push to grow its international footprint and produce new mobile content.

At the Mobile World Congress conference earlier this month, Vice announced a major expansion of its mobile offerings including a broad rollout in the Asia-Pacific region. By the end of 2017, the company said, Vice content will be available in over 80 territories worldwide (up from 30 today) across online, mobile, social and linear TV platforms.

Snapchat is expected to grow mobile ad revenue to $770 million in the U.S. alone this year (up from $405 million worldwide in 2016), according to a forecast from research firm eMarketer. That’s down 4% from eMarketer’s previous $800 million projection for Snapchat; the researcher cut estimates citing higher-than-expected revenue sharing with partners. That would give Snap 1.3% share of the U.S. mobile ad market for 2017. By contrast, Google will hold 41% of the total $83 billion U.S. market for digital ads this year, followed by Facebook at about 20%, eMarketer predicts.

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