Yahoo and ABC News just announced a new partnership that should shore up the online presence of both organizations.
The companies say that ABC News will become the "premier news provider" on Yahoo News. Both the news and advertising teams are supposed to work together moving forward, with ABC producing original content to be featured on co-branded sites with Yahoo. That includes a special Good Morning America site on Yahoo, and there are plans for new ABC Web series, including "Newsmakers" (with Diane Sawyer, Barbara Walters, and others) and "Around the World With Christiane Amanpour." And they're kicking off the partnership with a pretty big name. This afternoon, George Stephanopoulus will interview President Barack Obama.
At a press conference at Times Square Studios, the word "game-changer" came up repeatedly. ABC News president Ben Sherwood said that Yahoo and ABC share a vision: "The future of news and information is up for grabs."
It sounds like ABC is hoping to take advantage of Yahoo's big online footprint, while Yahoo can tap into ABC's news organization. The companies say that collectively, Yahoo News and ABC News reach 100 million people each month in the United States. That includes tablets and other mobile devices, and Yahoo executive vice president Ross Levinsohn said, "This is as much a mobile deal as it is a PC deal."
Several of the biggest names in ABC News, including Sawyers, Walters, and Katie Couric, appeared at the conference, where they were asked about some of the advantages they saw in the deal. Couric said that on TV "time sometimes is not your friend," so the new deal can include longer, more in-depth content. Amanpour noted that there isn't a lot of room for international stories on network TV, but ABC can serve that interest online.
This news, of course, follows a rough period for Yahoo, culminating in the firing of CEO Carol Bartz last month. How does this deal fit into that broader turmoil? Levinsohn said the team is just trying to "keep our heads down" and continue building Yahoo's online properties. In August, Yahoo News, Sports, and OMG all had their the "biggest month we've ever had," he added. As for the possibility of charging a subscription fee for some of the content, Levinsohn said the plan is to keep everything free for now and focus on everything, but he said, "I can't predict the future on that."