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Yahoo's Media Division Moves to Hollywood

Former ABC Entertainment Executive Lloyd Braun Plans Big Changes

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BONITA SPRINGS, Fla. ( -- Lloyd Braun freely admits that he's no Internet geek. But that won't stop the executive who greenlighted ABC's TV hits Lost and Desperate Housewives from using his new position as head of media at Yahoo from trying to reinvent the Internet.

Photo: AP
Former ABC TV executive Lloyd Braun plans to remake Yahoo with his Hollywood connections.

Yahoo's media division, which includes all media properties such as news, finance, sports and entertain, is the core of the company.

'There's a hunger'
"There's a hunger out there -- 40% of the people on the Internet are looking for content," Mr. Braun said to a packed auditorium at the iMedia Brand Summit here. "I Love Lucy defined what a comedy on TV could be. The Sopranos defined what could be done on cable TV. The Internet has not yet had a signature, compelling event. It will."

Mr. Braun clearly feels he has the background, the brawn and the creativity to do it. He started his keynote address yesterday morning talking about how a bet he lost to Seinfeld creator Larry David led to the development of a character named "Lloyd Braun" on Seinfeld. The point was not lost on the Internet insiders at iMedia that Mr. Braun, the former head of ABC Entertainment Television Group, is connected to the Hollywood power brokers. Hired by Yahoo last fall, he's about to relocate Yahoo's entertainment division to Los Angeles, where he can take advantage of that access.

The entertainment credentials Mr. Braun brings to Yahoo have the potential to create new kinds of content into which the portal can sell more ads. And those new capabilities and connections also push Yahoo into areas of original Hollywood entertainment that it would like to stake out ahead of rivals America Online, Google and MSN.

Hollywood talent community
"The talent community in L.A. is incredibly hungry to provide content for [the Internet] -- they just want to be shown the way," he said.

Although he did not detail how he planned to develop this signature, compelling event and the content that would follow, he spelled out what he wouldn't do. "We're not going to stream TV shows on the Internet," Mr. Braun said. "I don't believe the future of the Internet is to watch TV on a PC or handheld device."

But integration with TV is obviously part of his plan. Yahoo's entertainment division is in the third season of a partnership with the NBC reality series The Apprentice, which has afforded a number of branded entertainment opportunities for Yahoo and its advertisers.

Mr. Braun spoke at the iMedia Summit at the Coconut Point Resort in Bonita Springs, Fla.

He mentioned that he doesn't use the word "site" anymore. "That feels first generation to me," he said. What others call Web sites, Mr. Braun thinks of as "moving, fluid, evolving channels."

Consumer expectations
Saying he is studying what consumers' expectations online are, he noted their experience on the Internet should be different from other channels. "We should be focused on how to create content that's unique to the Web. I don't want to throw things up and see what sticks. I want us to have a really defined, clear strategy."

Currently, content even on some of Yahoo's sites is too complicated. "Why do I have to see words [like RSS feed] on a Web site?" he asked. "I don't want to see these words. Just give me fun content."

Before arriving at Yahoo, Mr. Braun said he had only dabbled on the Internet. He knew about Yahoo's music site, Launch, and Yahoo News among a handful of other areas, "but I had no idea of the breadth of the opportunity," he said. "If I only knew at ABC what I now know, I would have taken half of my paid media budget and plunked it [on the Internet]."

Media fragmentation
Does his new job mean he's given up on TV? "I'm not down on TV, I'll always love TV," Mr. Braun said. "TV has always been designed as a mass channel, but now it's hard to find something at appeals to everyone's interest."

The Internet can give you what you want, when you want it, where you want it, he said. "The challenge is to create compelling content like we did with I Love Lucy," he said.

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