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Here Come Shows for Snapchat, Made By YouTube Stars, Paid for by AT&T

Snapchat won't see a penny from this, and is probably just fine with that.

Peter Kafka covers media and technology, and their intersection, at Vox. Many of his stories can be found in his Kafka on Media newsletter, and he also hosts the Recode Media podcast.

Here’s another step in Snapchat’s transformation from messaging service to media platform: A “scripted series” of mini-movies made by social media stars.

“SnapperHero,” which is supposed to debut shortly, will present 12 episodes of shows featuring YouTube celebrities like Freddie Wong and Harley Morenstein as well as Snapchat star Shaun “Shonduras” McBride.

Each episode will run for a couple of minutes, and will be about … super heroes, or something. The pitch is a little confusing, though I gather it’s not going to be high art or Michael Bay, but something a lot closer to home movies. Which is probably just fine with Snapchat’s audience.

More important is the idea that each star is supposed to solicit fan input to help create elements of the show. So Wong, for instance, can reach out to the millions of kids who watch his “Video Game High School” series on YouTube and his RocketJump site, and port them over to Snapchat.

Most important is that the whole thing is sponsored by AT&T but isn’t an official Snapchat project, like the “Discover” platform Snapchat launched yesterday. Instead, it’s an advertiser paying content makers to reach Snapchat’s huge audience. And Snapchat won’t make a penny from the transaction.

Snapchat declined to comment on the project, but if they were candid they’d say something along lines of, “We’re psyched to see big-dollar advertisers using our stuff as a free platform, just like they did with Facebook and Twitter — that’s pretty awesome validation. And just like Twitter and Facebook, we’ll be able to extract a fee for our free platform down the road, if we want to go that way.”

It’s also telling to see the lineup of people working behind the scenes to put this thing together, who have both new media and big media credentials: The project is produced by Fullscreen, the video company now owned by Otter Media, the joint venture between the former News Corp. executive Peter Chernin and AT&T; as well as Astronauts Wanted, the joint venture between former Viacom executive Judy McGrath and Sony Music.

Billy Parks, the former chief content officer for Astronauts Wanted, developed the show along with Kendall Ostrow, who specializes in digital media for Hollywood talent agency UTA.

In short: Lots of people who’ve made money making stuff for other media outlets think there’s a chance to do the same at Snapchat. So we’ll see more of these.

This article originally appeared on

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