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Facebook funding 2 new BuzzFeed News shows for its Watch platform – Axios

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Facebook is funding 2 new BuzzFeed shows as a part of its effort to bolster news video on Watch, according to an internal memo by BuzzFeed editor-in-chief Ben Smith that was sent to staff late last night.

Details: The first show — called “Did You See This?” — will launch as a daily news program this September with a rotating cast of BuzzFeed News reporters and pop culture experts. The daily news roundup will unfold “using the Facebook Messenger feature in BuzzFeed’s fan-favorite video format,” writes Smith.

  • Facebook will also fund “That Literally Happened,” a weekly series that “brings nostalgia and historical curiosity to life through the lens of Gen Y and Gen Next-ers learning about the news, alongside the generations who lived through it.” It will debut in September and will be hosted by BuzzFeed News’ Hayes Brown.

Yes, but: BuzzFeed’s current show on Watch called “Profile,” which has completed its one-year run, isn’t getting renewed, which sources say can be attributed in part to its long-form format. Smith says “we’re not ruling out using the “Profile” brand in another context, and we’re working toward defining what that is.”

The big picture: Facebook said in June that it would launch a new series of shows on its video tab Watch this year, using learnings from the shows it funded over the past year. Reports have suggested that Facebook is spending around $90 million to invest in news shows on Watch.

  • A new report out from The Wall Street Journal last week suggested that Facebook has offered millions of dollars to big news organizations to license their content for a Facebook news section to debut in 2019.

Be smart: A source tells Axios that Facebook won’t actually be licensing articles, but rather will be paying for links to articles and snippets of news. In Europe, regulators passed a controversial “link tax” last year, charging major web platforms for using snippets of news content online.

Between the lines: BuzzFeed has now had to take a clinical approach to transforming its video business.

  • In 2018, it started to transition its business out of the viral feed videos into licensed content. It’s now focusing more on news programming, and creating licensed shows for social specifically, not just Netflix or other OTT platforms.
  • BuzzFeed last month launched its first show on Snapchat called “BTW,” a daily afternoon celebrity and entertainment news update.
  • It also renewed its morning show on Twitter “AM2DM” earlier this year.

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