Snapchat’s recent redesign has received widespread criticism from users in the United Kingdom, Australia, and Canada, where it has thus far been made available. Speaking at the Television Critics Association press tour Monday, Snap Inc. content executives Nick Bell and Sean Mills defended the redesign and talked about the company’s push into series programming on its platform.
“I think we’ve got enough experience launching new and disruptive products to know that people don’t like change,” said Bell, vice president of content for the company. “We’re certainly listening to our community, as we always do.”
Techcrunch reported last week that 83% of all user reviews for the redesigned app were negative.
Bell said that “the number one thing that we were hearing from our community in the last few years” was a complaint that Snapchat’s interface was making it increasingly difficult for users to find content from their friends, which was mixed with so-called “premium” content.
“That was quite a strange concept for users,” he said. “The redesign will simplify that greatly,” separating content from friends and publishers.
Recent reporting suggests that most Snapchat users have not been engaging with publisher content. The Daily Beast reported last week that only an average 20% of active users on Snapchat consume any of the more than 40 daily Discover Editions published by media companies such as BuzzFeed and the New York Times.
“It will give far more prominence to premium content and far more real estate to premium content,” Bell said of the redesign.
Snapchat announced last summer that it planned to move into scripted series programming. Mills said that the company planned to explore a broad array of scripted programming options. “We’ve experimented with genre, with animation,” said Mills, head of original content for the company. “It’s not just one type of show. I’m fascinated by how serialized scripted content is going to work on Snapchat.”
Bell had predicted last summer that scripted series would begin appearing via Snapchat Shows by the end of the year. That mark has been missed. But he said that scripted will show up soon.
“It’s imminent,” Bell said. “Our preference is to get this right.”