Back when Terry Semel ran Yahoo, the web portal embarked on a grand Hollywood-style video strategy that was abandoned after Semel stepped down. Now, with another change in CEOs, Yahoo is again reversing course and rolling out a new approach to web video.
Carol Bartz is taking over from co-founder Jerry Yang, and among her first initiatives is a redo of Yahoo!’s approach to video. Under Semel, Yahoo produced TV-like original series, but with little success. The new plan calls for shorter and more targeted video series. Among the new shows are “Spotlight to Nightlight,” which will feature famous mothers sharing humorous anecdotes about motherhood and fame. Ali Landry, a former Miss USA who is fluent in both English and Spanish will host and the hope is to attract a female audience. Sponsor will be State Farm Insurance. State Farm had been looking for new ways to reach a female audience when it contacted Yahoo about a partnership, said Ed Gold, an advertising director for the insurance company.
Yahoo! also has a series that features short recaps of prime-time television called “Primetime in No Time.” Yahoo! says the two- to five-minute-long show has an average of 400,000 daily streams, making it one of the most popular recurring series made for the Web. The TV recaps are sponsored by Verizon Wireless.
Clearly, Yahoo!’s new model calls for pairing a targeted entertainment that can be married to corporate sponsors. The old model, consisting of TV type programming such as talk shows and sitcoms “were all disasters,” accoring to Trip Chowdhry, a senior analyst for Global Equities Research. That model was scrapped in 2006 and since then the portal has been quiet about its video intiatives.
Sibyl Goldman, Yahoo!’s head of entertainment, admitted that the old approach had not worked: “We may have come at it from the wrong way in the previous era,” she said, adding,”The one-way model—‘We think this is great, we hope you come watch it’—may have been more of a TV mindset.”
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