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Snapchat reportedly pulls plug on original content channel

Messaging app shuts down Snapchat Channel, leading to the departure of some employees behind the original content effort, according to a Deadline report.

Snapchat appears to have had second thoughts about producing its own original content.

The Venice, California-based startup behind the popular messaging app of the same name told Deadline it has decided to shut down its Snapchat Channel, part of the startup's plan to attract new users by offering original content. With the closure, a handful of recent high-profile hires brought on to bolster the project will be departing, along with many of the about 15 people who ran the channel, the entertainment site reported.

Among those reported as leaving the company is Marcus Wiley, the former co-head of comedy development at Fox Broadcasting, who was hired in March. It wasn't immediately clear whether former CNN national political reporter Peter Hamby or former Onion president Sean Mills, who was hired in June to be Snapchat's new chief of original content, would be departing as well.

Snapchat Channel has been pulled from the startup's Discover platform. Jason Cipriani/CNET

Snapchat representatives did not respond to a request for comment.

The closure is a setback for Snapchat's ambitions to move beyond an app that lets people send missives that disappear to become a major media provider. Original content was part of a big bet the 4-year-old startup made earlier this year with the launch of Snapchat's Discover platform, which serves editorial and multimedia content from major brands such as CNN, ESPN and National Geographic.

Snapchat Channel was removed from Discover a few weeks ago but was due to be relaunched on the platform, according to Deadline, before Monday's closure was announced.

The move underscores the challenges faced by companies big and small hoping to use original content to lure new customers. Microsoft abandoned its original content ambitions in July 2014 when it announced the closure of its 2-year-old Xbox Entertainment Studios, the studio responsible for bringing original video programming to the Xbox gaming platform. Apple is also said to be exploring the possibility of producing its own original video programming.

While Snapchat has so far generated little revenue, it has attempted to expand its business through advertising and content partnerships. Industry insiders clearly see it as a force to be reckoned with. After Facebook's $3 billion offer for Snapchat was famously rebuffed in 2013, the startup has been raising funds at a break-neck pace, securing more than $750 million so far this year for valuation of $16 billion.