BuzzFeed Motion Pictures videos reach 1 billion monthly views

"Back in September of 2012, there were five of us and we were experimenting with formats for a single YouTube channel," said Ze Frank, President of Buzzfeed Motion Pictures.
(Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

Buzzfeed Motion Pictures, a division of the Buzzfeed media company, announced in an internal memo Thursday that its videos have accumulated 1 billion monthly views.

The news comes just six months after the Motion Pictures division, located in Hollywood, launched as a way to expand the media company’s growing video division.

“Back in September of 2012, there were five of us and we were experimenting with formats for a single YouTube channel,” Ze Frank, President of Buzzfeed Motion Pictures, told The Times. “Now we have a team of over 160 employees. We distribute roughly 50 videos each week to more than 20 platforms and portals around the world.”


The company focuses on creating any and all moving images, from animated GIFs to feature films. 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.

For example, BuzzFeed Violet, a channel created by the company last July, features staffers Andrew Ilnyckyj and Ashley Perez in short but popular videos such as “Creepy Ways to Ask If She’s Single,” “Weird Things You Do When You Have a Crush,” “How ‘Likes’ Would Work in Real Life” and “Randomly Seeing a Person You Know.”

An estimated 5% of the company’s video traffic stems from The rest of the views come from the syndicated platforms Buzzfeed’s videos are on, including YouTube, Facebook, AOL and Yahoo.

As consumer appetite for online videos grows, similar approaches to content have become common in the digital space.

Vox Media, a digital media company, said Wednesday that is launching its own entertainment division, according The Hollywood Reporter.

“To reach this kind of milestone shows that Buzzfeed Motion Pictures is using platforms in an intelligent way,” said Paul Verna, a senior analyst at EMarketer. “But there does seem to be a sense that the pie just keeps getting bigger for online video. There’s a growing appetite for digital content.”


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.”

But Producer Michael Shamberg, who serves as an advisor for Buzzfeed Motion Pictures, told The Times in September that the company isn’t looking to rival the traditional studio model.

“We’re never going to replace that,” the “Pulp Fiction” producer said. “But new creative opportunity invents new business models. When you think of a studio, it’s not just a question of reimagining the content. It’s about re-engineering the way content is developed, promoted and shared.”

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