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Snapchat to Bow ‘My Ex-BFF Court’ Parody Series from Elisabeth Murdoch’s Vertical Networks

Snap has been getting hammered in the stock market, and it just lost its head of content, Nick Bell. But the company is still pushing on its original-content strategy for Snapchat, as it looks to boost ad revenue from its user base of 186 million daily users.

Snapchat’s newest short-form original: “My Ex-BFF Court,” a spoof of daytime-TV fare like “Divorce Court” and “Judge Judy” in which two former best friends hash out a beef — and the guilty party is sentenced to some kind of quirky punishment.

The quasi-reality show comes from Vertical Networks, the mobile content studio founded by Elisabeth Murdoch, which has distributed several other shows on Snapchat. “My Ex-BFF Court” will premiere Thursday, Nov. 15, at 6 a.m. PT on Snapchat’s Discovery page, with subsequent episodes in the 12-part series hitting on following Thursdays.

Vertical Networks is using the actual set from the “Divorce Court” syndicated show to shoot “My Ex-BFF Court” at a studio in West L.A. Presiding over “My Ex-BFF Court” is Judge Matteo Lane, a New York-based comedian (whose real name is Matthew Lane), who metes out justice to the pairs of bickering pals with sassy, satirical flair.

The show was developed out of Vertical Networks’ analysis of usage from Brother, its daily Snapchat Publisher Story targeted at millennial males, which reaches an average of over 34 million unique monthly viewers. The company discovered that relationship drama (through bits like “Ways to Mess With Your Friends”) was far more interesting to Brother’s audience than romantic relationships, said Bailey Rosser, director of audience development and head of content at Vertical Networks.

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“We took the concept of ‘friend conflict’– which tested with relatively high interest on Brother — and curated that into a courtroom show, based on what tropes have been popular on TV,” Rosser said.

Vertical Networks is managing production and casting for “My Ex-BFF Court” in house. Each episode runs 3-4 minutes.

“My Ex-BFF Court” joins Snapchat’s expanded slate of originals, which includes scripted and reality shows. The social and messaging app has run more than 60 original series, from partners including NBC, CBS, ESPN, Viacom, Discovery, A&E, the NBA, and the NFL.

In addition to “My Ex-BFF Court,” Snap has launched Vertical Networks’ “Parental Guidance,” a show in which moms or dads find date on behalf of their offspring, and “Solve,” a scripted murder-mystery series. Vertical’s popular “Phone Swap” dating show will return to Snapchat for a holiday season through the end of the year.

Vertical Networks, founded in 2016, is currently based in Venice Beach, Calif., but will be moving to new offices in Santa Monica next year. In September, the company appointed former Mitu chief operating officer Jesús Chavez as its CEO.

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