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Why BuzzFeed Is All-In on Mobile, Though That Wasn't Always the Case

Debuts first video-only app at Mobile World Congress

The social news site gets deeper into video. Getty Images

BARCELONA, Spain—Once a doubter in the future of mobile video, Jonah Peretti is now a believer.

In a speech on Tuesday at Mobile World Congress, the BuzzFeed founder announced that his publishing company is launching a mobile video app that's focused on binge-watching. It is available today for iPhone and Android users. (There are no ads in the original version, but a spokeswoman later confirmed that BuzzFeed plans to roll out native advertising down the road.) 

"Content has really become the exciting battleground in the mobile space," Peretti said.

In fact, he said it was just a few years ago that he didn't think mobile video would do well at all. Video requires more bandwidth, is harder to load and might even require headphones. Mobile itself use to kill social distribution, he said, as content viewing would often have to be put on hold until a person got back to their computer. However, Peretti suggested, it quickly became the "only" way for something to go viral.

"Increasingly content, and especially mobile video, are becoming a key part of the mobile stack," he said. "It's something that consumers care deeply about. The brand and the content they're consuming on their mobile devices. It affects their decisions of which apps to use, which phones to use, and which content is increasingly becoming one of the major areas of competition in the mobile space."

BuzzFeed's audience has grown rapidly, from 100 million monthly content views in 2012 to 6 billion in 2016. The majority of the company's views now come from mobile, as opposed to the majority coming from desktop in 2012.

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