BuzzFeed Bets Big on Original Shows for Platforms.
Last Sunday, BuzzFeed launched the second season of its food-centric web series “Worth It” on Facebook and YouTube. The show features a trio of hosts testing out food at three different price points — affordable, middle-tier and luxury — and grading which of the items was most worth its price. It’s one of BuzzFeed’s most successful web shows: The March 12th episode did 3.5 million views within the first 24 hours of its premiere, according to the company.
“Worth It” is one of 31 shows currently in some stage of development or production at BuzzFeed, according to executive Matthew Henick, who leads development for BuzzFeed Motion Pictures.
The slate spans a wide variety of distribution partners. For instance, some shows like “BuzzFeed Unsolved” are distributed on Facebook, YouTube and on BuzzFeed’s site and apps (this includes Tasty, BuzzFeed’s hit food brand, which is making shows like“Tasty Date Night” and “Tasty Story.”) Other shows are paid for by streaming partners, including Quinta Brunson’s “Broke” and The Try Guys’ “Squad Wars” for YouTube Red, Kelsey Darragh’s “Am I Doing This Right?” for Comcast’s Watchable and Brunson’s “Up for Adoption” for Verizon’s Go90. Through its relationship with investor NBCUniversal, BuzzFeed is also developing TV shows like a true crime documentary series based on a BuzzFeed News investigation about the unsolved death of a Mississippi teen.
As Facebook, Snapchat and OTT services seek TV-like programming, BuzzFeed — like other content partners — is in conversations with those companies to produce exclusive shows for their platforms, Henick said. “The platforms — both in terms of the companies that own those platforms and the audience on those platforms — want the content,” he said. “It allows us to lead the market in establishing what a big hit digital series can be.”
BuzzFeed shows come out of the BuzzFeed Motion Pictures Group, a 40-person unit inside BuzzFeed Entertainment. Late last year, BuzzFeed reorganized its business under two major divisions: BuzzFeed News, led by editor-in-chief Ben Smith, and BuzzFeed Entertainment, led by president Ze Frank.
BuzzFeed Motion Pictures Group, which is responsible for creating original shows and films, frequently works with freelance producers and other staffers for specific projects — typical for a Hollywood studio setup.