CNN Quickly Kills Its Snapchat Show Over Profitability Woes

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CNN decided to cancel its Snapchat show “The Update” after only four months, being discouraged by continuing the project due to a lack of profitability, The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday, citing sources with knowledge of the development. While the media giant wasn’t expecting to turn a profit after just four months of delivering the experimental programme, the decision to pull the plug on the initiative is said to have been made after higher-ups concluded The Update doesn’t have a viable monetization plan. Both CNN and Snap later confirmed the move but didn’t go into any reasons behind it, having only said they’ll continue working together on new opportunities and describing the latest development as a “pause” of their direct involvement instead of its end.

The Update is distributed using Snapchat’s Discover platform, with CNN being one of Snap’s major media launch partners and its commitment being presented as a significant vote of confidence for the long-term sustainability of the social media firm‘s business model. The move to discontinue the show came not long before Snap’s licensing subsidies were set to come to an end, leaving CNN’s offering with ads as its only monetization avenue. While the discontinuation of the show clearly signals the media company didn’t deem advertising on Snapchat to be lucrative enough to support The Update going forward on its own, it’s still unclear whether a lack of the programme’s popularity was concluded to be the root of the issue or if the partnership broke down due to more complex reasons. The show will be discontinued in early 2018 but no firm date for its last airing has yet been provided.

The idea that Snapchat is a viable content delivery platform isn’t entirely unfounded, with Comcast-owned NBC continuously enjoying major success with its “Stay Tuned” show, albeit through a larger focus on (mostly) original content. Snap is presently in the process of rolling out a major Snapchat redesign that separates content posted by one’s friends from other stories authored by celebrities and brands. The Venice, Los Angeles-based company already acknowledged the move might hurt its sales in the short term as it will inevitably reduce the number of impressions advertisers are able to generate on the platform but remains adamant that revamping the app will ultimately pay off by providing users with a better experience. Some industry watchers remain skeptical of the decision, claiming that it primarily benefits existing Snapchat users who are already extremely loyal compared to the industry average, whereas it does little to attract new people to the service, i.e. address the firm’s biggest issue – acquisition rates. Snap’s first calendar year as a public company was largely characterized by its unsuccessful Spectacles project and generally disappointing financial results.