BuzzFeed’s video efforts have primarily been focused on short, shareable, viral-friendly clips. They’ve been enormously successful, generating 3 billion views a month on YouTube, but they’re not the type of thing that will win you a prime booth at The Grill or golden statuettes during awards season.
That was supposed to change when the BuzzFeed Motion Pictures (BFMP) division was launched in 2014 with veteran producer Michael Shamberg (“Pulp Fiction,” “Erin Brockovich”) at the helm, but no feature films or TV shows emerged from BuzzFeed, just more viral videos.
Now, BuzzFeed’s long-form drought is finally coming to an end. Today, the company announced that YouTube has ordered full seasons of its scripted comedy series “Broke” and the competition show “Squad Wars” from BFMP as exclusives for its subscription service YouTube Red.
“Broke” (pictured, above) will debut on Sept. 28, and “Squad Wars” will follow sometime in 2017.
“Working with YouTube to create big, global shows makes perfect sense to us,” said Matthew Henick, head of development for BuzzFeed Motion Pictures, in a statement. “Our talent has been building loyal fanbases on the platform for years and we’re excited to build premium series for the Red service.”
Earlier this year, BuzzFeed announced it was partnering with Warner Bros. to develop the feature “Brother Orange,” based on BuzzFeed senior editor Matt Stopera’s real-life mission to retrieve his stolen iPhone, which took him all the way to China. But “Broke” will be the first project from BFMP to see the light of day.
“Broke” is an 11-episode comedy following the lives of best friends and recent grads who don’t let being broke stop them from pursuing their big dreams. It was created by and stars Quinta Brunson, a BFMP producer and development partner, along with Maurice Williams and Paul Dupree.
Brunson, Matthew Henick and Jared Sosa serve as executive producers on “Broke.” Sosa and Adam Bianchi are directing from scripts by Brunson, Kate Peterman and Garrick Bernard.
“Squad Wars” will star BuzzFeed mainstays the Try Guys (Ned Fulmer, Keith Habersberger, Zach Kornfeld, Eugene Lee Yang), whose videos have them doing everything from subjecting themselves to a labor pain simulator to swimming with sharks. “Squad Wars” will have teams of guests competing in outrageous tests for the chance to face off against the Try Guys to claim the honor of Top Squad.
“Squad Wars” will begin production this fall with the Try Guys (pictured, top) producing as well as hosting the series.
“BuzzFeed has its finger on the pulse of social sharing, trending and keeping audiences entertained,” said Susanne Daniels, global head of original content for YouTube, in a statement. “Quinta Brunson and the Try Guys already reach millions of fans with their popular videos, and we’re excited to introduce original series with characters and creators that fans already know and love.”
That has been the policy of YouTube Red since its launch last fall. While many expected it to bring in more mainstream TV and film talent to help sell $9.99/month subscriptions to the service, it has stayed true to its promise to be a venue for the stars of the platform to explore bigger ideas with bigger budgets on projects such as “Scare PewDiePie,” Wong Fu Productions’ “Single By 30,” “Escape the Night,” starring Joey Graceffa, and “Fight of the Living Dead: Experiment 88,” in which ten YouTube stars try to survive a simulated zombie apocalypse.