Since pretty much every online media company is ramping up its video production, it makes sense to create an app like this. But it’s also a bit of a left turn for BuzzFeed, given the way its executives have been promoting their “distributed” media strategy, with unique content published to Facebook, YouTube and elsewhere.
In other words, it’s a strategy where no one website or app is necessarily the center of the BuzzFeed universe. However, the company’s app product director Jesse Shapins (he joined last year through the acquisition of GoPop) said that this approach has a downside, namely, “A large audience connected to BuzzFeed doesn’t even know the full breadth of our content.”
That doesn’t mean the company is changing course, necessarily. But it doesn’t hurt to give fans find all the BuzzFeed videos they could possibly want.
Shapins demoed the new BuzzFeed Video app for me yesterday — a process that took five minutes, tops, since the goal was to create “a super simple experience.” There are two sections to the app, one for trending (individual) videos, and another for browsing and subscribing to different shows (once you’ve subscribed, you’ll get a push notification whenever there’s a new episode). The videos auto-play directly in the feed, moving into an “immersive mode” where everything else fades into the background.
Also worth noting: BuzzFeed is using its own native video player for the app, rather than relying on YouTube or Facebook. Shapins said that allows the app to collect more data about user activity, gives the company more flexibility in how it wants to make money and delivers a better user experience.
“You can’t use an embedded player in the feed where you can have auto-play and deliver the really seamless experience that a user will expect,” he said.
To be clear, BuzzFeed Video doesn’t currently include every single video that the company has ever created. Instead, it’s starting out with a big chunk of the existing catalog and will include every new video moving forward. The company also plans to “window” some of its shows, so that new episodes are available in the app before they’re posted anywhere else.
BuzzFeed Video is available for iOS and Android. You can download it here.