NBCU, Buzzfeed partnering to produce TV content

NBC Tower in Chicago. (Tflynn17/Wikimedia Commons)

NBCUniversal’s unscripted production group Wilshire Studios and BuzzFeed News are partnering to create an investigative docu-series.

The series will use BuzzFeed News reporter Katie J.M. Baker’s reporting to further explore the death of Jessica Chambers, a Mississippi teen who was burned to death in 2014. Joe Berlinger is being brought on to produce.

“This is the perfect example of how BuzzFeed can extend the life of its content—be it serious journalism or entertaining videos—beyond the original social platforms where it was created,” said Matthew Henick, head of development for BuzzFeed, in a statement. “We’re excited to partner with Wilshire Studios and Joe Berlinger to bring Katie Baker’s impactful reporting to a new audience through this docu-series.”

The true-crime series follows other similar, successful series including Netflix’s “Making a Murderer” and HBO’s “The Jinx,” as well as Discovery’s success, particularly with female demographics, with its Investigation Discovery network.

RELATED: NBCUniversal invests another $200M into BuzzFeed

While it’s still unclear where and when this docu-series will air, the news of NBC and BuzzFeed partnering on TV content is significant since the companies’ partnership thus far has been largely based on short-form digital content.

Last year, NBCUniversal made another $200 million investment into BuzzFeed, bringing its total investment into the media company to $400 million.

This latest round of money is intended to extend the advertising sales relationship between BuzzFeed and NBCUniversal, and will also see the two companies collaborate on production and social distribution for NBCUniversal Content Studio’s short-form digital video content. The investment will help BuzzFeed focus on data science and technology, growing its Tasty food media network, and creating cross-platform advertising products, according to a press release. 

“Over the past year, BuzzFeed has proven to be a valuable partner across our business,” said Maggie Suniewick, president of NBCUniversal Digital Enterprises, in a statement. “From the Olympics to the record-breaking launch of 'Secret Life of Pets,' BuzzFeed has helped us engage millennial audiences with our content and extend the reach of our clients’ campaigns to new platforms. We are looking forward to using the power of our brands to collaborate in more innovative ways that drive value for both companies.”

For NBC, the series with BuzzFeed comes after the programmer announced plans to shutter its crime- and mystery-focused channel Cloo and reformat Oxygen as a female-targeted true crime network.

Oxygen is planning new series including “Three Days to Live,” premiering March 5, as well as “Cold Justice” and “The Jury Speaks,” both arriving in the third quarter.

“The recent expansion of our ‘Crime Time’ weekend block has enjoyed double-digit gains and has really resonated with our female audience,” said Frances Berwick, president of Lifestyle Networks at NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment, in a statement. “Oxygen has always played in this space with the highly successful original series ‘Snapped,’ one of the longest running crime series on television now approaching its 20th season. With a lot of high quality projects in development, we believe our current fans, as well as all arm chair detectives, have good reason to be excited.”

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