NewFronts: BuzzFeed Highlights Food Channel Tasty, Homegrown Stars

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Jonah Peretti

Quinta Brunson, Ashly Perez and The Try Guys all took the stage during BuzzFeed's event.

At 9 a.m. ET on Monday, BuzzFeed’s Tasty channel posted a new video detailing how to make chocolate-covered marshmallow fluff balls. By the end of BuzzFeed’s NewFront presentation a little after 1 p.m., that video had 8.3 million views and 75,000 shares.

The stunt may have felt a bit forced, but it was meant to showcase the size of audience that BuzzFeed is able to reach. President Greg Coleman summed it up when he noted that BuzzFeed is “able to do things in real time” and “give you huge numbers when large audiences are harder to find.”

Today, BuzzFeed sees more than 7 billion monthly total content views across platforms, driven largely by its three-year-old video business, which was the star of the publisher's NewFront presentation.

BuzzFeed seems to have refined its pitch since last year, when its party at Times Square’s B.B. King Blues Club & Grill underwhelmed. This year even the event space, Skylight at Moynihan Station, was glossier and the food was plentiful, courtesy of some of Tasty’s top recipes. The presentation, which featured few announcements about new projects, had a cohesive message about BuzzFeed's reach and also included appearances from talent Quinta Brunson, Ashly Perez and The Try Guys. It covered everything from CEO Jonah Peretti’s life before BuzzFeed to the creation of the Tasty channel. Here are the highlights:

Broadcasting Live

BuzzFeed is one of the early media partners receiving funding to create videos for Facebook Live, and the company has already begun posting frequent videos. It’s most popular to date was a live broadcast of an exploding watermelon that at one point had 800,000 concurrent viewers on Facebook. Peretti calls the experiment “really exciting to me because it’s the first time we’ve had a number comparable to live TV.” That doesn’t take into account the fact that a person is considered a viewer after watching for just three seconds, but he made his point that BuzzFeed wants its video efforts to be considered alongside TV. Meanwhile, Coleman stressed to advertisers that BuzzFeed is looking for brands to help it test the burgeoning medium. “There are amazing upsides and probably a whole lot of stuff that’s not going to work, but we’ll figure it out,” he said.

Talent Focus

Yes, BuzzFeed is developing its own talent, and the company showcased their work during this year’s event. Brunson showed a trailer for her new series Broke, which is currently being shopped to distributors, and Perez talked up her work on BuzzFeed’s Violet channel. Then, The Try Guys took the stage to the tune of “My Heart Will Go On” to talk about their popular web series, in which they take on embarrassing or dangerous stunts in the name of trying. “We try to foster multihyphenates who can get the job done,” said Ze Frank, president of video arm BuzzFeed Motion Pictures, adding that creators like Brunson and Perez are part of a larger conversation about culture and modern identity.

Food Entices

BuzzFeed executives really hit home just how proud they are of the Tasty channel, which posts beautifully shot food how-tos on Facebook. In the nine months since its launch, Tasty now sees 360 million users a month. And now the brand is expanding into Tasty Happy Hour videos about mixing drinks and Tasty Unboxed, which shows how to use a new cooking gadget. “Tasty is made for brands,” said Frank. “Everything you see today is a good that you can buy.”

All About Identity

Although BuzzFeed makes a lot of different content — everything from lists to quizzes to web series — the company stressed that it all serves the same goal: connecting with its audience on a personal level. “People didn’t understand totally what we were doing,” Peretti said of BuzzFeed’s early lists. “The purpose of a lot of this content is to connect with the audience and understand the audience.”