Buzzfeed makes headway in China after deal with media powerhouse Bytedance

American media giant Buzzfeed has made a great leap forward into the Chinese internet market after signing a licensing deal with Bytedance Technology Co.

The media company, renowned for its viral listicles, will allow the Beijing-based media powerhouse to distribute Buzzfeed’s content on its platforms, including Toutiao, an AI-operated news aggregator with a reputed 120 million daily active users.

Headway: Buzzfeed will gain access to Bytedance’s immensely popular app portfolio

The deal gives Buzzfeed, a site which primarily uses the firewall-blocked Facebook to distribute its content, a significant foothold in the Chinese market.

In addition to Toutiao, Buzzfeed will also gain access to TopBuzz, the English-language version of Toutiao, and short-form video app Xigua Video.

As well as the news and listicle articles, Bytedance will also gain access to Buzzfeed’s franchise of content sites, including Tasty, Nifty, Goodful, Top Knot and Bring Me.

Although Toutiao is one of China’s most popular mobile apps, its parent company has largely flown under the radar until recent times. Last year, Tech Crunch described the company as only recently becoming no longer a secret outside of its home market.

However, its app, a mishmash of homemade music and comic videos, has a user base of 200 million, of which includes significant numbers of youths from North America and Europe.

It has also made other inroads into the West by investing $50 million into, a mobile streaming app operated by Chinese ad player Cheetah, that’s focused on the American market.

It also paid US$86.6 million to buy France-based News Republic, a media aggregation service also owned by Cheetah. The company also allegedly tried and failed to buy Reddit last year. 

Meanwhile, in contrast, Buzzfeed has had a rocky year, having missed its revenue target for 2017, forcing it to axe 100 jobs – or eight per cent of its US workforce.

Having built its brand on the back of getting stories to go viral on Facebook, the platform is likely to see its traffic take a hit when the social network rejigs its News Feed to de-prioritise publishers’ posts.

On the new deal, Scott Lamb, VP BuzzFeed International, said: “We’re so pleased to partner with Bytedance to take our entertainment content to millions of people across China.

“We look forward to meaningfully engaging Chinese audiences in our feedback loop, to learn more about what they love, how they use and interact with our content and what they’d like to see, and we’re thrilled about this first foray into testing our content there.”

Lin Chen, Hhad of product of Bytedance, added: “BuzzFeed is recognised around the world as one of the original incubators of viral content and a leader in the digital media revolution, and we are proud to welcome them to our growing global network of content partners. We aim to connect our users with the very best content creators from around the world, from individual creators to major media publishers.”


Get the latest media and marketing industry news (and views) direct to your inbox.

Sign up to the free Mumbrella Asia newsletter now.



Sign up to our free daily update to get the latest in media and marketing