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Listen: Snap Content Chief Nick Bell on Venturing Into Scripted Series

Two years into Snap’s effort to expand the Snapchat app beyond mere mode of communication to a platform for content as well, a new slate of original series will feature a first wave of scripted projects.

But as Snap’s VP of content, Nick Bell, recalled on the latest episode of Variety‘s “Strictly Business” podcast, this genre was so difficult to crack that there were numerous false starts along the way.

“Creating scripted content is definitely harder than a docuseries, a news show, or a sports show,” said Bell, the company’s top programming executive. “We’ve been working on this in the background for a long time. There was stuff that’s came in that initially we felt was exciting, but in time didn’t live up to our expectations, so we didn’t air it.”

But Snap was emboldened to pump up its slate of Snapchat Shows to 60 series because he saw strong demand for the company’s current roster. “What we’ve seen since the start of the year is actual engagement on premium video triple,” Bell said. “If you look at that and it shows, there’s a demand there. Audiences are lapping it up, asking for more.”

Bell dismissed the notion that Snap’s current woes on Wall Street could last long enough to compel the company to question its investment in his content efforts.

“I was sold when I first met (Snap CEO) Evan Spiegel on the long-term vision,” he said. “I’m still really excited by that long-term vision. We’re playing the long game here.”

Strictly Business” is Variety‘s weekly podcast featuring conversations with industry leaders about the business of entertainment. Listen to the podcast below for the full interview, or check out previous “Strictly Business” episodes featuring comedian/actor/producer Kevin Hart, ICM Partners agent Esther Newberg, and HBO chairman/CEO Richard Plepler. A new episode debuts each Tuesday and can be downloaded on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, Stitcher, and SoundCloud.

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