Yahoo Eyes More TV Partners as Layoffs Loom

A Content Deal With ABC News as a Model for Others

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Amid a swirl of speculation about layoffs that could run as high as 1,000, Yahoo is pushing further into original video programming and discussing possible partnerships with TV networks beyond its current deal with ABC News.

Credit: Bloomberg

Five months ago, Yahoo and ABC News announced an alliance that resulted in the creation of original web news video series starring journalists from both organizations as well as Both Yahoo News and ABC News execs have been pleased with the results thus far, with ABC News announcing this week that the combined entities reached more than 89 million people online last month, according to ComScore, putting that joint entity ahead of CNN, MSNBC, Huffington Post and CBS.

Now, Yahoo is looking to other TV networks to collaborate on co-branded video series in categories beyond news. In recent weeks, several Yahoo execs have told Ad Age that the company is evaluating similar deals in other verticals. And in an in-person interview this week, Yahoo VP for News and Finance Rob Barrett declined to say what kind of partnership comes next, but indicated ABC News won't be the last.

comScore Feb. 2012
comScore Feb. 2012

"I'll make a general comment," he said, choosing his words carefully. "I think we're seeing with the ABC News partnership an interesting recipe to co-develop original franchises... and we're looking more broadly across properties including finance."

Yahoo has separately been rolling out new slates of original video programming across a variety of its properties, as the company looks to continue to develop a content identity beyond aggregation.

Yesterday on Yahoo News, the company introduced an ambitious video series called "Remake America" that will track six American families throughout the year as they deal with a variety of common economic hardships. And earlier this week, the company announced a new video slate of comedy web shows, which followed an exclusive standup performance from Bill Maher streamed on Yahoo last month.

All of this movement comes as the looming threat of massive company reorganization and layoffs hovers over the company, as first reported by All Things D. An industry executive who has talked recently with Yahoo executives said employees believe the layoff count will reach 1,000, with staff at all levels looking over their shoulder.

"I don't have any problem getting return phone calls at Yahoo these days," the executive said. A Yahoo executive who spoke with Ad Age speculated that the only thing keeping a major exodus of Yahoo talent from happening right now is that it is bonus season at the company. "This situation is just a killer for morale," this executive said.

Yahoo issued the following emailed statement in response to requests for comment on the reorganization: "As we have indicated, our leadership is engaged in a process that will generate significant strategic change at Yahoo, but final decisions have not yet been made at this point. Beyond that , we will not comment."

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