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Snapchat launches original video series but problems loom

The project, called “Snap Originals,” will start with 12 shows featuring a mix of scripted series and reality content.
Image: Signage for Snap Inc., parent company of Snapchat
Signage for Snap Inc., parent company of Snapchat, adorns the front of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), March 2, 2017 in New York City.Drew Angerer / Getty Images file

Snap, the parent company of Snapchat, unveiled a series of original shows on Wednesday as it continues to push into original content amid broader challenges around user growth and advertising revenue.

The project, called “Snap Originals,” will start with 12 shows featuring a mix of scripted series and reality content, including a comedy from the Duplass brothers and a reality show from the creators of “Keeping Up with the Kardashians.”

Snapchat has previously looked to partner with media companies to bring original shows and news content into its app, primarily through its Discover section, which launched in 2015.

The shows will also have an interactive aspect.

“Snap Originals will also feature new Show Portals, letting you swipe up and step inside a scene from a Show to experience it for yourself,” Snap Snap Originals will also have Lenses, Filters, and other fun ways for you to share the show experience with your friends.”

The announcement comes as Snapchat has struggled to recover from a redesign that resulted in backlash from users and concern from investors for the company’s future. On Wednesday, Snapchat shares hit a record low, trading down 5 percent at $6.64 per share.

Snapchat went public in March 2017 at $17 per share.

“The clock is certainly ticking for Snap to turn its business around,” wrote Michael Nathanson, senior research analyst at research firm MoffettNathanson, in an analyst note.

Snap CEO Evan Spiegel has publicly acknowledged the company’s struggles, telling investors earlier this year the app’s redesign has “created some headwinds in our revenue” and also “some apprehension among our advertising partners.”

Snap has also had to endure stagnant user growth combined with aggressive competition from Facebook-owned Instagram, which leapfrogged Snap with a copycat version of its Stories feature.

The company has also recently endued the departure of several major executives including its chief financial officer, chief strategy officer and head of communications.