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BuzzFeed struggling to sell “Hot Ones” production studio First We Feast

A still frame from a web episode of the popular show "Hot Ones." (Courtesy image)
A still frame from a web episode of the popular show “Hot Ones.” (Courtesy image)

Celebrities love to be on “Hot Ones,” the discussion show and pseudo-competition that involves eating chicken wings with varying degrees of heat.

Wall Street is not feeling the same kind of love.

BuzzFeed, the parent company of production firm First We Feast, is struggling to sell the studio behind Hot Ones and other programs acquired through its blockbuster purchase of Complex Networks three years ago.

BuzzFeed dropped $198 million in cash and $96 million in equity to acquire Complex as part of a big bet on web series at a time when the media company’s signature style of “listicles” and groundbreaking investigative journalism wasn’t paying off for its investors.

Then, the thinking seemed to be that BuzzFeed could buy its way into video-based content production and distribution, and the money would follow. Saddled with significant debt, BuzzFeed is now on a selling spree, and First We Feast is up for grabs.

BuzzFeed is hoping to get around $70 million for First We Feast, of which around $50 million would help the company pay down some of its outstanding debt, according to a report from Bloomberg on Monday.

With no buyer lined up, Bloomberg said the “future of the show is uncertain,” suggesting the popular series that has drawn tens of millions of views across YouTube and other platforms might wind down if BuzzFeed can’t find a new home for the show.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is a nationally-recognized, award-winning journalist who has covered the business of media, technology, radio and television for more than 11 years. He is the publisher of The Desk and contributes to Know Techie, Digital Content Next and StreamTV Insider. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, the Walt Disney Company, McNaughton Newspapers and Tribune Broadcasting.
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