Snapchat's top shows are grabbing about half as many viewers as the most popular TV series

  • Snap's top show E!'s "The Rundown" averages 7 million viewers per week.
  • The top TV show in terms of total viewers, "Big Bang Theory," averaged 14.03 million viewers per episode the last season.
Evan Spiegel, Snapchat
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Evan Spiegel, Snapchat

In order to steal more advertising dollars away from TV, Snap, Twitter and Facebook are adding original shows. They claim to be able to get as many, if not more, viewers than the traditional box.

They're not there quite yet. Snap's most successful series, E!'s "The Rundown," averages more than 7 million viewers per weekly episode, according to the company. Peak episodes have reached 8.5 million viewers.

In comparison, TV's No. 1 show during the 2016-17 season in terms of total viewers was CBS' "The Big Bang Theory," which averaged 14.03 million viewers per episode, according to CNBC's calculations. AMC's "The Walking Dead" had the highest ratings — meaning it had the highest percentage viewership among households with TVs — and it averaged 11.35 million viewers weekly. (CNBC calculated these average numbers by taking the number of viewers for each show as published in various publications like Variety, then divided by the number of episodes; Nielsen uses a slightly different methodology but was not available to comment by press time.)

But "The Rundown" wouldn't have fared so badly against the rest of network prime time. Its episodes get about the same amount of average viewers as NBC's "Chicago Fire," which averaged 7.05 million viewers per episode. "Chicago Fire" was the 26th most viewed network program in terms of total viewers, according to Deadline, and would come in 23rd if live sporting events like Sunday Night Football were not counted.

Snap also saw a 53 percent increase in viewership between the first and second season of "Good Luck America," and a 45 percent increase in viewership for "The Voice in Snapchat" although it did not disclose actual viewership numbers.

Snap first debuted Shows in August 2016, starting with "The Voice on Snapchat." Episodes are typically three to five minutes long, and most are made just for Snapchat, while a few others are re-edited television-quality clips. The shows are produced by third parties — Snapchat itself produces only the politics program "Good Luck America."

Note: CNBC parent company NBCUniversal is an investor in Snap. In addition, NBCUniversal is the parent company of NBC and E!.

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