Launched this past January, Snapchat's Snap Channel was the "ephemeral" app's foray into original content. Several months later, Snapchat seems to be reversing its plans. As Deadline reports, the app withdrew the channel from the Discovery platform weeks ago with promise of relaunch, but now that most of the team hired to spearhead the project, including its head of program planning Marcus Wiley, have been laid off, it seems that original content won't be returning to Snapchat any time soon.
It is suspected that when the channel was taken down for "tweaks," cost-calculations for those tweaks may have brought about a new reality for the content plan. According to Deadline:
The Snapchat development team had been in the midst of talks with major studios and production companies on multiple shows when the shutdown news came today, catching all by surprise. Many of the 15 members on the team will be laid off; a few junior execs might be reassigned within the company...The sudden course reversal came just as Snap Channel's programming team was settling into a new 12,000-square-foot studio facility in Marina del Rey where they had moved in just weeks ago.
Snapchat's content programming was intended to rival television and other streaming content platforms like Netflix. It debuted its own series, Literally Can't Even, in January, and was planning an independent series with Sofia Vergara and Fusion to be called "Vergaraland." The app will still support other content programs from other partners such ESPN, National Geographic, and CNN.
The cancellation of Snapchat obviously raises some questions--such as whether an app designed for quick photos and messaging could compete as a longform medium, and the elephant-in-the-room: whether the company even had the money to support major content production. For now, Snapchat seems to be returning to its core business model of live stories and news, where it has partnered more successfully with brands.