Snap is pulling new star power into its 2021 slate of original shows for Snapchat, unveiling reality series with Megan Thee Stallion and the D’Amelio Sisters, the sibling digital influencers who rose to fame on rival app TikTok.
The new shows are among nine new and renewed Snap Originals aimed at Snapchat’s young-skewing user base. The company announced the lineup at its NewFronts presentation Wednesday for advertisers, where it also unveiled the Snap Creator Marketplace: a way for brands to book sponsorships with Snapchat talent, starting with AR Lens creators, developers and partners.
“Off Thee Leash With Megan Thee Stallion,” “Charli vs. Dixie” and the other shows will join the company’s 128 Snap Original series from 68 partners that have hit the app to date. More than 400 million people watched shows on Snapchat last year, including over 90% of the Gen Z population in the U.S., according to Snap.
“We are constantly trying to find stories that we think will resonate with our audience, coupled with talent and creators,” said Vanessa Guthrie, head of Snap Originals.
Snap’s originals fall into three categories, Guthrie said: Shows featuring talent and creators “with a big trajectory”; shows on issues that are important to Snapchatters, like climate change and racial justice; and shows that are possible only on Snapchat.
In “Off Thee Leash With Megan Thee Stallion,” the multi-Grammy-winning artist will be joined by celebrity friends and their pets. “Charli vs. Dixie,” meanwhile, is a competition series that will give Snapchatters a different look at the internet-famous sisters as they go head-to-head in “epic challenges that test their bravery, athleticism and ingenuity, while their squad of famous friends judge from the sidelines,” according to Snap. Both shows are set to premiere later in 2021 and are being produced by Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith’s Westbrook Media.
Other new shows in the star-power category are “Meme Mom,” a docuseries from Maven, following Nicole TV — who has one of the fastest-growing accounts on Snapchat — as she navigates life with a newborn, a live-in mother and skyrocketing career; and “Twinning Out,” a docuseries from Bunim/Murray Productions, following twins and internet superstars Niki and Gabi DeMartino, as they “risk their boyfriends, besties, and inseparable sisterhood to make some of the biggest decisions of their lives,” according to the show’s description.
Snap is hoping the personality-driven originals can draw a crowd. Ryan Reynolds-starrer “Ryan Doesn’t Know,” in which the actor spent time with a group of artists and creators as he attempted to learn their crafts, has reached over 20 million viewers since its January 2021 premiere. Will Smith’s stay-at-home pandemic series “Will From Home” has reached 43 million total viewers over two seasons.
Meanwhile, forthcoming original “The Me and You Show” taps into Snap’s augmented-reality technology that makes viewers part of a personalized sketch-comedy show. The scripted series, produced by Big Breakfast, uses Snapchat’s Cameo technology to make you the lead actor in scenes with one of your best friends on Snapchat. According to the company, more than 44 million Snapchatters engage with Cameos every week and more than 16 millions share Cameos with their friends.
“You literally become part of the show — this is actually your face,” Guthrie said. Last year, Snapchat debuted “Bitmoji TV,” a parody of TV and movie genres starring the Bitmoji avatars of users and their friends.
New Snap Originals focusing on social issues that Snapchat users care about include “Coming Out,” from executive producer Chloë Grace Moretz and 44 Blue Productions. The unscripted series follows six young people as they gather the courage to reveal themselves to friends and family for the very first time, with the support of YouTube beauty vlogger Manny Mua, an icon in the LGBTQ+ community.
In addition, set to premiere in a few weeks is “Everything’s Fine,” a scripted comedy from executive producers Paul Feig and Pete Wentz of Fall Out Boy (who also serves as music supervisor). The show, produced by Feig’s Powderkeg, follows a college student coping with a new bipolar diagnosis.
New scripted show “Breakwater,” from Retrofit Films, imagines future repercussions of climate change. The futuristic YA drama is set in a world of climate refugees. In the dangerous coastal slums outside the Los Angeles Seawall, people dream of winning the visa lottery to the safe zone while Mai, a savvy 20-year-old fixer who grew up in the Breakwater, must race against an impending hurricane to complete a mission for survival.
Also on the 2021 Snapchat slate is “Lago Vista,” a docuseries from GoodStory Entertainment, following seven high school seniors and recent grads through self-shot footage, as they navigate complicated and unexpected moments of life and love in Lago Vista, Texas. Premiering May 8 is “Endless” Season 4 from Bunim/Murray — a continuation of “Endless Summer,” which first bowed in 2019. While the original stars of the soft-scripted show, Summer and Dylan, have gone their separate ways, the new season features rising creators Gabby Morrison and Andre Swilley “to find out if meeting online can actually lead to real love IRL.”
On the ad and marketing front, the Snap Creator Marketplace is slated to open later this month for all businesses to partner with a select group of AR creators through 2021. In early 2022, the company says, it will expand to an open marketplace that includes all Snap creators. Brands will be able to use Creator Marketplace can define parameters for the types of creators they are interested in reaching on Snapchat.
“This is a material product development,” said Peter Naylor, Snap’s VP of sales for the Americas (and former head of ad sales at Hulu).
Snap will not take a revenue cut of any of the deals brokered through Creator Marketplace. “We want to give creators a chance to enjoy a living on the platform,” Naylor said. “The benefit to us in the long run is, creators will be happy to participate… and everyone wins.”