What Everyone Is Talking About Today

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NEW YORK ( –- When he moved from broadcast TV to Internet portal Yahoo, Lloyd Braun famously declared that he was going to bring the “I Love Lucy” moment to the Web. That is, the signature mass medium moment that would be akin to when Lucy and Ricky became a staple in America’s living rooms. Now, Yahoo is backing away from its original content production, and Braun says original content is the “salt and pepper on the meal,” not the engine driving Yahoo.
Lloyd Braun switches focus to user-generated content.

Braun tells New York Times’ Saul Hansell that Yahoo’s Media Group is shifting focus to content acquired from other media companies or user-generated content. Content, it should be noted, that is much cheaper than original content that you have to hire and pay people to produce. He also acknowledges that his first budget request that he submitted for this year was rejected.

Of course, we’ve already seen a pulling back from Yahoo on creating content. Just last month, Yahoo News General Manager Neil Budde told an industry gathering: “We’re not interested in setting up a full news service with a correspondent in the White House. We want to be your partners.” In other words, continue the very profitable model of letting others carry the burden of paying to ferret out news stories while we deliver them. But then again, users are in love with the idea of starring in their own show, as evidenced by the sheer volume of those who have started MySpace pages. Budding auteurs are also filling up pages and Google Video with the Web’s version of “America’s Funniest Home Videos.”

The original content plays already up and running, war journal “Kevin Sites in the Hot Zone” and travelogue “Richard Bangs Adventures,” are going to continue. “The Runner,” a project that was originally a reality show for ABC that Braun was looking to adapt to the Web, will not get the green light. And he said he will only have a handful of projects this year, scaling back his original intention to produce a full slate of similar projects.

Interestingly, one road block Yahoo found as it tried to pursue these projects was raging Hollywood paranoia that Yahoo could be a competitor, not a partner, and this goes a long way to soothing those ruffled feathers. We don’t doubt Hollywood’s back is up when it comes to technology company threats, witness the cranking up of the rumor that Apple would buy Walt Disney Co., a scenario that is more frightening to that town than “Saw.”

Yahoo will now focus its efforts on creating areas within its portal that will allow users to participate and linger longer on the site, such as photo sharing and blog-like offerings, and thus extend the time they are likely to see ads.

Braun, actually, seems fine with that, since he was quoted as saying: "I now get excited about user-generated content the way I used to get excited about thinking about what TV shows would work." We love a man who can adapt.

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