Election night 2016, as millions of people crowded around their televisions watching in shock as the numbers came in, BuzzFeed was busy updating a different audience: Twitter’s. Capturing more than 7.5 million viewers on its live stream of the Election night results, the feed was the most watched of any election-related stream on the platform.
BuzzFeed News had produced a few other live streams before launching AM to DM, its popular morning news show on Twitter hosted by Saeed Jones and Isaac Fitzgerald, including strikes and rallies across the country. The site wanted to build on that momentum to create a regular live show.
“Twitter came to us with the idea about a morning show,” Shani Hilton, VP of news and programming for BuzzFeed News, told Publishing Insider. “We kept talking about what we could do together, since the platform is really the front page of news.”
A crew of approximately 20 worked through late spring and summer before launching in fall 2017. Filmed in New York’s Union Square at the BuzzFeed studios, "AM to DM" kicked off its second season January 2, and records over 1 million views per show.
“We saw how our audience was responding to those broadcasts and thought a live morning show on Twitter, which has an instant feedback loop built into the platform, was a good way to drive important conversations taking place in the worlds of politics, tech, entertainment and media, while showcasing our excellent reporting,” Hilton explains.
She notes it has also proven a great way for BuzzFeed’s various bureaus to work together, particularly the D.C. bureau, which contributes daily.
In addition to providing a new platform for its stable of reporters and guests, from pop-culture icons like Dolly Parton to writers like Morgan Jerkins, "AM to DM" provides BuzzFeed an opportunity to enrich partnerships with key advertisers.
According to Hilton, Twitter has been largely responsible for taking the lead with many of the show's sponsors, which include Wendy’s, Bank of America, T Mobile and Toyota. The show provides BuzzFeed with a platform to build relationships with the brands.
“If we're going to make sure "AM to DM" continues to be a sustainable and profitable show, and think about ways to turn our smart reporting into revenue opportunities, we need to keep building on this success,” says Hilton. “The show has become a great tool for the company as a whole in talking to potential clients.”
BuzzFeed invested early in experimenting with different platforms to reach regular and new audiences. From publishing on Facebook and YouTube to developing content for its mobile app, the company has leveraged various communication options, including video.
“The show has given us the confidence to start exploring more video programming,” says Hilton. “We're actively developing several new projects on that front.”