SANTA MONICA, Calif.--Yahoo's Media group is kicking around ideas for expanding its lineup of original video content to include slightly longer scripted and unscripted shows, according to the head of the group.
Jimmy Pitaro, vice president of media for Yahoo, said the company is soliciting and reviewing ideas for new shows that are a little longer than the 3- to 5-minute news and entertainment programs that Yahoo currently produces. Sitcom writers need not apply, however; the shows will not stretch to the traditional 22-minute television programming slot and will fit into one of the group's current properties: news, sports, entertainment, or finance.
Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz has tipped the corporate scales back in favor of the Media group during her first eight months on the job, promising to invest in the group with the savings wrung from cuts in other areas. And if the company's search deal with Microsoft goes through, the Media group could be the primary area for new investment at the company.
Yahoo has had a bit of a love-hate relationship with original content over the last decade. The much-hyped arrival of former ABC executive Lloyd Braun as head of the Santa Monica-based group never panned out the way it was originally pitched back in 2005. Braun had once hoped to create TV-style programming for the Internet, but it didn't work then, and it still doesn't work now.
But instead, Yahoo has built a large audience around short, original easy-to-produce programs that essentially summarize the events of the previous night, such as the daily "Prime Time in No Time," or preview an upcoming event, such as Sunday morning's "Fantasy Football Live." "Prime Time in No Time" counts several million viewers a day, peaking at 7.3 million viewers the day after Kanye West made a lifelong enemy of Taylor Swift at the MTV Video Music Awards.
Yahoo believes there's room to expand beyond those so-called "video snacks," but hasn't nailed down a specific concept just yet. Instead, Pitaro said the company is considering a wide variety of ideas that include scripted and unscripted shows and that will somehow take advantage of the medium, linking out to social-networking sites or encouraging viewer participation.
Expect to see these shows popping up by the first quarter of next year, Pitaro said.