Yahoo News set out to produce an unconventional two weeks of convention coverage. In the end, the site generated 60 million page views from 236 stories, and 44 million streams from 270 original videos. The 24 million video views from the RNC and the 20 million from the DNC were the two highest weeks ever for Yahoo News Video.
Unlike the TV news networks, Yahoo News was not tied to the often onerous 24-hour broadcast schedule. "It's a little less restrictive than the big networks," said Yahoo News editor in chief Megan Liberman, who says their coverage was intentionally "less anchory."
Still, Yahoo's global news anchor Katie Couric was front and center at both conventions, sitting down with newsmakers just as her former network colleagues at ABC, NBC and CBS were doing from their own sky boxes. The interviews would stream live in some cases and then live on Yahoo's homepage and its social channels, where engagement would inevitably increase. Yahoo also produced the first video simulcast of Yahoo News on SiriusXM.
Midway through the conventions, on the first day of the DNC, the staff of 40 in Philadelphia learned the company was being acquired by Verizon. The news was not surprising to insiders we talked to, and Liberman said it hadn't affected coverage. "It's really nothing that we talk about, think about or factors into life at all," she said a few days before the acquisition was announced. "When the topic of a sale first came up, it was a thing that people talked about. But it has not interfered with coverage for one minute."
The deal, expected to close in the first quarter of 2017, will include 25 brands in the AOL and Yahoo portfolio. And there will be crossover especially in the coverage areas of news, sports and finance, which will almost certainly lead to staff changes. "This transaction is about unleashing Yahoo's full potential, building upon our collective synergies, and strengthening and accelerating that growth," said AOL CEO Tim Armstrong in a statement announcing the deal.
As for the record-breaking convention numbers, Liberman says the approach to covering the news is not solely data driven. "We care about data, and we care about how things perform. But it's not a minute-by-minute, how we're making decisions about what we're covering."