Yahoo! Teams Up With Rocket Science

LOS ANGELES Yahoo! is looking to launch new programming with Rocket Science Laboratories.

The Web behemoth has signed the production company to a nonexclusive first-look deal. Rocket Science, best known for some of Fox’s racier entries in the reality genre, including Temptation Island and Joe Millionaire, exited an exclusive overall production deal with the network last year.

The enlisting of Rocket Science represents an increasingly rare connection forged by Yahoo! with a Hollywood entity. The company brought in former ABC Entertainment chief Lloyd Braun in 2004 to create a presence for original programming on the portal, but even before Braun’s ouster in late 2006, Yahoo! had shifted its energies elsewhere.

Yahoo! does have two other deals with production companies: Embassy Row, Michael Davies’ shingle responsible for Yahoo! daily series “The 9,” and Gotham Group, an animation specialist that has projects in development but no active programming on the site.

Rocket Science continues to stay busy on the TV side, with Bull Run up next for Spike TV, as well as If Women Ruled the World for Fox.

Yahoo! Entertainment gm Drew Buckley envisions Rocket Science helping to establish content involving entertainment, music and television. The plan was put in motion under Vince Broady, head of games, entertainment and youth at Yahoo!, to whom Buckley reports.

“Our goal is to see how we’re going to keep consumers for a longer period of time, and extend engagement,” Buckley said. “Video programming is a piece of that.”

For Rocket Science, Yahoo! represents a continuing expansion of its business. The company linked with U.K. outfit Alchemy Television this year to push Rocket Science programming overseas.

“When that deal expired with Fox, we looked at it as an opportunity to look at new ways to leverage development activities,” said Mike Wood, director of business development at Rocket Science. “We very much want to work with Yahoo! to find a way to translate the Rocket Science strength in storytelling to find new programming for the Web.”