NEW YORK/BEIJING: BuzzFeed, the US online media firm best-known for its viral listicles and memes, is taking a significant step forward into the Chinese market.

It has reached a content licensing agreement with Bytedance, a popular Chinese online media company with millions of users, which has agreed to distribute BuzzFeed content, including franchises such as Tasty, Nifty and Bring Me.

The two companies announced the partnership in a press release, in which it was explained that BuzzFeed content will be distributed via Bytedance’s Toutiao, TopBuzz and Xigua Video platforms.

Toutiao, an AI-operated news portal, has a reputed 120m daily active users, according to Mumbrella, while Xigua Video is said to be China’s most popular platform for professionally generated short-form video content, drawing three billion views a day.

In addition to seeing its content reach China’s “vast and fast-growing digital media market”, BuzzFeed has also secured agreement for Bytedance to distribute content via TopBuzz, the English-language version of Toutiao, especially in the key markets of North America, Japan and Brazil.

“We aim to connect our users with the very best content creators from around the world, from individual creators to major media publishers, and I am sure that our users of TopBuzz, TopBuzz Video, Xigua Video and Toutiao globally will enjoy BuzzFeed’s content,” said Lin Chen, Head of Product at Bytedance.

“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,” added Scott Lamb, VP of BuzzFeed International.

For BuzzFeed, the agreement with Bytedance, represents a rare example of a Western social news company being allowed past Chinese officialdom’s notorious firewall, which still blocks Facebook, among others.

As reported by Bloomberg, it also gives the company an opportunity to diversify as it, along with other digital media companies, sees its advertising revenues come under pressure from Facebook and Google.

Last November, for example, the company was forced to cut about 100 jobs, or 8% of its US workforce, after missing its revenue target for 2017.

Sourced from BuzzFeed, Bytedance, Mumbrella, Bloomberg; additional content by WARC staff