BuzzFeed and CNN are launching an entertainment and news video channel for YouTube today, The Wall Street Journal reported. The channel, CNN BuzzFeed, will host videos designed to be shared via social networking, including mashups of both current and archival CNN footage.
BuzzFeed plans to make an eight-figure investment in the video platform over the next two years.
Best known as a purveyor of viral content, BuzzFeed boasts 60 million unique users and already has a substantial presence on YouTube; in the past nine months alone, over 400 years of BuzzFeed video has been watched on its six YouTube channels. The site, arbiter of the online cultural zeitgeist, has recently made steps to become a viable news presence, such as the adoption of a business news section in mid-May.
"There has been a massive cultural shift in how people—particularly young people—consume news and entertainment," Steinberg said. "Over 70 percent of BuzzFeed’s traffic is social, almost half is mobile, and we are seeing these huge shifts earlier than others because the majority of our readers are 18-34."
The partnership could help CNN stay relevant among the 18-34 set as the network looks to boost ratings. The Time Warner-owned network will collaborate on BuzzFeed's signature listicles and publish them on CNN.com.
“By pairing the journalistic strength and reach of the CNN brand with BuzzFeed’s unique editorial approach and young audience, our partnership will enable both organizations to engage new audiences,” K.C. Estenson, svp of CNN Digital, told the Journal.
In lieu of traditional banner ads, BuzzFeed publishes branded digital content from advertisers designed to be shared via social networking. In keeping with this ad model, the CNN BuzzFeed channel will launch without the support of advertising partners. BuzzFeed is no stranger to partnering with traditional media companies. In mid-May, Charles Koch badges draped the pages of BuzzFeed Politics as part of a sponsorship deal with the Koch Institute.
In January, BuzzFeed announced it had raised $19.3 million in series D funding and was planning on using it to build a media empire.
“We have the senior management, board and investors we need to build the next great media company: socially native, tech enabled, with massive scale," BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti said. "We are all focused on that big goal and raised this capital to move even faster.”
BuzzFeed's new video arm will operate out of a studio in Los Angeles, with a coffee shop where "influencers, thinkers and celebrities" will be encouraged to create informal videos, the company said.