Comedy Central to produce 13 series for Snapchat to lure younger viewers

The logo of mobile app Snapchat displayed on a tablet in Paris.
The logo of mobile app Snapchat displayed on a tablet in Paris. PHOTO: AFP

LOS ANGELES (BLOOMBERG) - Comedy Central will produce 13 original series for Snapchat, more than tripling the Viacom Inc-owned cable channel's output on a popular social media app that is competing with YouTube and Facebook for television programming.

The home of South Park and The Daily Show will produce sketch comedy, animated shows and stand-up programmes for its channel in Snapchat's Discover section, including series starring or created by many of its current writers and actors. Mike Lawrence, a writer for the channel's Inside Amy Schumer, will play an angry nerd with strong opinions, while Nikki Glaser, star of her own show, will make new episodes of the companion series Quickie With Nikki.

With live viewership of its TV network down more than 18 per cent in prime time this TV season, Comedy Central has turned to Snapchat to promote new shows and promising talent to the young viewers who have historically tuned into its programmes. Comedy Central was one of the first partners in Snapchat's Discover programme, which features professionally produced video, articles and images from organisations like ESPN and BuzzFeed.

Comedy Central views its Discover channel as a means of testing newer talent and formats, as well as promoting upcoming programming. The network was pleased with the results when it posted episodes of Quickie With Nikki on Snapchat in the weeks leading up to the debut of her half-hour show Not Safe, said Mr David Bernath, who oversees the network's Snapchat strategy.

"It's been great to bring ideas to air in such a quick process," he said in an interview. "The speed to market for these ideas is measured in weeks, not months or a year."

Earlier this year, Viacom said it would sell advertising on Snapchat's behalf, and added a Discover channel for MTV.

Comedy Central continues to produce critically beloved shows that create new comedy stars, from Amy Schumer to Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson, the stars of Broad City. Yet the network has hemorrhaged viewers, and has lost even more after the departure of late-night hosts Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert.

Network executives continue to argue their shows are every bit as popular, but are more likely to be viewed online, be it on Hulu, YouTube, Comedy Central's website or Snapchat. While Comedy Central posts original material to other social networks, Snapchat is now the "top of the food chain", Mr Bernath said.

"This is a destination," he said. "Our brand is front and centre; someone is choosing to come into Comedy Central and we deliver a daily content experience. It is ripe for development."