Social news site and meme aggregator BuzzFeed is partnering with CNN and YouTube to create a new online-video channel called “CNN BuzzFeed” that will be unveiled later today. Chief operating officer Jon Steinberg told the Wall Street Journal that BuzzFeed plans to invest a low “eight-digit sum” over two years in the video platform.
The YouTube channel will include archival and current content designed to be shared over social media networks. Steinberg says that BuzzFeed will create around three videos a week, focusing on serious news events.
The CNN partnership is the latest in a series of efforts BuzzFeed has made to become a top news source for 18-to-34 year olds, a demographic highly sought after by advertisers. The site’s business model has been a balancing act–its rewrites of popular Reddit posts and pictures of furry animals pull traffic to the ad-based site, helping finance BuzzFeed’s long-form features.
While BuzzFeed already manages six YouTube channels, partnering with a recognized journalism brand like CNN gives the youth-oriented site credibility. In return, CNN gets access to BuzzFeed’s younger users (content from the BuzzFeed-CNN YouTube channel will also appear on CNN.com).
The new channel, which will use the mashup video format BuzzFeed is known for, is being launched without the support of advertising partners, a strategy that is in line with BuzzFeed’s refusal to rely on traditional display advertising. Instead, it sells and creates sponsored posts designed to be shared over social media.
BuzzFeed’s latest round of funding was disclosed in January, when the site announced that it had raised $19.3 million in a Series D led by new investor NEA with existing investors RRE, Hearst, SoftBank, and Lerer Ventures also participating, as well as new investors Michael and Kass Lazerow.
CEO Jonah Peretti said in a statement the money would be used to scale up the startup into a bona fide media company: “We have the senior management, board, and investors we need to build the next great media company: socially native, tech enabled, with massive scale. We are all focused on that big goal and raised this capital to move even faster.”