“Two years ago we had a specific goal of not doing a TV show,” he said. “We didn’t know anything about TV and we were so used to having a close relationship with our audience. Now we realise it’s more complicated than that.”
Peretti described the move as “going upmarket” while producing content at a lower cost. He compared it to Toyota’s humble beginning in the US at a time when the market was dominated by US automakers. “Students could finally afford it over time and Toyota kept investing in quality till people felt they were superior. That’s the dynamic you will see.”
BuzzFeed has already started moving in this direction, experimenting with its digital content and testing ideas and plot lines on Facebook and YouTube. He’s also counting on the company’s experience in making short-form videos on a $40 million budget that reaches more 18-34 year olds than the CBS network. “They spend billions of dollars on content. But we reach more people at a fraction of the cost.”
At present, BuzzFeed gets 2 billion video views a month across 20 platforms with a majority of revenue coming from sponsored posts.
Still, 85 per cent of television shows don’t make it to season, he cautioned. “But it’s still easier for digital companies to move upmarket than for media companies to move downmarket.”