Just 15 months old, Tasty is driving BuzzFeed video

Tasty is not just one of the biggest publishing brands on Facebook; it’s now the driving force behind the BuzzFeed video juggernaut.

In September, Tasty’s main Facebook page was the third-biggest video account on Facebook with nearly 1.7 billion video views, according to Tubular Labs. Viewership per video is also staggering: During the last three months, Tasty’s Facebook videos have averaged 22.8 million video views in the first 30 days alone. That’s better than BuzzFeed’s main Facebook page and the separate BuzzFeed Food account, which averaged 4.7 million views and 1.1 million views per video in the same timeframe.

Overall, Tasty now accounts for 37 percent of BuzzFeed’s video views, according to Tubular. This is all the more remarkable considering BuzzFeed started Tasty just in July 2015.

Nowhere is this more evident than on Facebook. While food videos account for only 8.1 percent of all videos BuzzFeed has ever published to Facebook, 34 percent of BuzzFeed’s Facebook total video views have happened on food-related content. (This is across 67 BuzzFeed Facebook accounts tracked by Tubular Labs since August 2014.) Today, BuzzFeed has 75 people working on Tasty with the brand putting out roughly 60 videos per month on the main Facebook page alone.

BuzzFeed itself is emphasizing video across its entertainment and news groups. In the entertainment division, led by Ze Frank, BuzzFeed has both Tasty and DIY spinoff Nifty, which itself generated 747 million views on Facebook in September, according to Tubular Labs. On the news side, led by editor-in-chief Ben Smith, BuzzFeed plans to train reporters to do more video. BuzzFeed has reportedly raised another $200 million from NBCUniversal to fund its video ambitions.

Tasty is known for overhead shots of hands assembling delicious, bizarre and everything-in-between recipes. But it is looking to do more. Last week, BuzzFeed launched “Tasty Story,” a new recurring video series in which celebrity chefs and other “notable individuals” like Marcus Samuelsson and Martha Stewart share some of their favorite recipes. Of course, with this being a Tasty video series, the celebrity hosts are the mysterious hands captured from an overhead camera.

The first video for “Tasty Story,” starring Samuelsson, went live yesterday on Facebook. Within 40 minutes, it had captured 1.1 million views.

“We’re in development for more Tasty video series; this is one of the first,” said Ashley McCollum, general manager of Tasty. “Expect to see a lot more Tasty shows in different formats.“

Not all of the shows will feature the overhead cooking format that Tasty has popularized. Other shows, such as “Mom vs. Chef,” are less Facebook-specific in format.

Other ways BuzzFeed is looking to grow Tasty include launching more country-specific editions. Today, BuzzFeed has six foreign versions of Tasty including Proper Tasty (the U.K.), Bien Tasty (Spanish-language) and Tasty Miam (French). The company is also exploring how to build events and other real-life experiences around the Tasty brand, McCollum said.

Tasty’s success on Facebook has had a measurable impact on BuzzFeed in 2016. It’s the fastest-growing part of the BuzzFeed Entertainment business in terms of monetization, according to Ze Frank in a recent interview with Recode. The brand was also the star of BuzzFeed’s presentation at the 2016 NewFronts and now has its own segment on NBC’s “Today Show.”

“Certainly you can find a lot of efficiencies by working with multiple smaller publishers, but because of their astronomical growth, they’re in the top tier of food publishers,” said Pedro Rodriguez, director of social strategy and influencer in digital for Horizon Media. “Plus, the investment BuzzFeed has made in Tasty overall — like the segment on the ‘Today Show’ — make it possible to do larger-scale integrations, which not everyone is able to offer.”

On the content side, BuzzFeed has used Tasty’s huge audience to kickstart new content brands like Nifty and health- and wellness-centric Goodful. BuzzFeed also looks to feature some of its video talent on Tasty videos in an effort to drive followers to their own pages.

For Nifty, BuzzFeed created “Nifty Kitchen” videos that are shot exactly like Tasty recipe videos and were cross-promoted on the Tasty Facebook page. Viewership for Nifty grew faster than the rate at which Tasty grew, McCollum said. And Goodful, which did 195 million views in September, is growing at a faster rate than Nifty.

“We have been able to crack something with Tasty, and now we’re able to franchise that out and bring it to other content areas that aren’t just straight food,” said McCollum. “We’re thinking a lot about areas that are style- and food-adjacent. Having cracked this format and built a large audience allows you to expand.”

Image by Matt Fraher