BuzzFeed’s thriving video production arm is a good barometer for the state of video distribution on the web, so Ze Frank, president of BuzzFeed Motion Pictures, is a great source if you want to take measure of the market … the majority of that market is still controlled by YouTube, Frank said … Facebook, however, is gaining ground …“It’s very, very significant … Facebook’s … decision to autoplay video in users streams is changing how BuzzFeed produces video … [no audio in the opening few seconds has] fundamentally changed the way we think about the first five seconds of content.” (Martin Beck, Marketing Land, February 2015).
Over the last couple of years, BuzzFeed Motion Pictures has assembled a team of 160 people who have produced around 5,000 short videos that have racked up 950 million YouTube views a month. Some are one-day “bangers,” while others can take weeks to produce. (Dawn Chmielewski, re/code, February. 2015).
… only 5 percent of BuzzFeed’s 950 million monthly video views come via its homepage … videos are syndicated on 26 platforms, with YouTube and Facebook by far the most important … the BuzzFeed Video channel on YouTube has totaled more than 2 billion views, compared with 644 million for CNN and 66 million for Mashable. (David Cohen, Social Times, February 2015).
BuzzFeed has developed something of a formula when deciding how to build its short films, based on the comments made on content that was widely shared. Each must fall into one of three categories: identity, emotional and social information. The latter relates to something you might share with someone because you were talking about it with them recently … The former relates to niche groups … Emotional, is everything in between … “It starts you on this interesting chain of challenging what you think media is,” says Frank. “As Marcel Duschamp said, ‘the creative act is not performed by the artist alone; the spectator brings the work in contact with the external world by deciphering and interpreting its inner qualification and thus adds his contribution to the creative act’.” (Liat Clark, Wired UK, October 2014).
Though short-form videos continue to be one of the more important variables for testing formats and genres, BuzzFeed Motion Pictures has also recently expanded into unscripted medium-form content and serialized formats with developed characters and story lines … Though BuzzFeed Motion Pictures has yet to make any feature films, Frank said the high viewership numbers point to opportunities to delve into traditional formats. “We’re always looking at how we can interact with just incredible talent that’s here in town,” Frank said. “With the scale and growth that we have, it means we are going to have opportunities to venture into a number of kinds of formats and genres, that includes the craft of a feature or other traditional forms.” (Saba Hamedy, LA Times, March 2015).
Ever since his “How to Dance Properly” viral video … hit the Web in 2001, Ze Frank has been making people giggle, guffaw and gasp out loud whilst procrastinating at work. He defines, in many ways, the genre of online comedy, and continues to innovate madly on the form. In 2006 he launched a year-long daily video blog called The Show with Ze Frank … His rapid-fire delivery and absurd explorations in audience participation (like Earth Sandwich) has influenced a generation of digital native YouTubers. Perhap his most brilliant move: calling on fans to write the show for him. Using collaborative tools, online viewers collectively put words in his mouth (and props in his lap); he faithfully performed this wiki-comedy each week for his “Fabuloso Friday” show. (TED.com).
Ze Frank’s TED Talks:
Ze Frank with Screenwriter John August:
BuzzFeed’s Most Viewed Videos: