While most Americans got their 2016 election news from TV, according to the Pew Research Center, 12 percent of respondents said Yahoo News was a top choice for checking in on the election. For its part, the digital news site posted +305 percent growth in total views in 2016 vs. 2015.
“A lot of it is attributable to the performance of live,” Tony Maciulis, Head of News for Yahoo Studios told TVNewser. “We decided very firmly that we are going to be the presenters of breaking news and relevant live events that people want to watch in real time. We had more than 16 million views on election night. That’s a massive number for us.”
“Cord cutters, and people who just don’t watch television,” have been Yahoo’s main consumers, said Maciulis. “We are also talking about people who are overseas, who aren’t necessarily able to find these things on television but can find it through Yahoo being accessible in more than 60 countries. It’s also a secondary news screen for people who frankly just find our news team to be comfortable.”
Led, for now, by yahoo global news anchor Katie Couric, along with yahoo news & finance anchor Bianna Golodryga, national political columnist Matt Bai, and chief investigative correspondent Michael Isikoff, the Yahoo News team has kept its blinders on as the entire organization is poised for a sale to Verizon, and then a merger with AOL.
In an interview late last year, Yahoo’s global revenue chief Lisa Utzschneider told Adweek integration plans are moving forward with AOL as the companies look to close the deal by March. “I think those integration discussions are moving along quite well. Some critical decisions need to be made. And then post-close we’ll start executing,” Utzschneider said.
“It has had absolutely no impact on our day-to-day business,” said Maciulis. “I feel the same level of support for the original reporting that my team is doing as I did when Yahoo News started. It hasn’t hindered our work in any way.”
To that end, Yahoo News is treating tomorrow’s Inauguration as a weekend event, beginning this afternoon with coverage of Pres.-elect Trump and VP-elect Pence’s trip to Arlington National Cemetery for the wreath-laying ceremony. “We’re offering non-stop, live streaming of all events around the Inauguration,” said Maciulis. “Sometimes, it will be moderated with anchor coverage, other times we’ll show informational graphics so that people can take in the moment, enjoy the performances, speeches, take in the protest rallies, and we’ll keep an eye on all of the live feeds coming in from all over.”
There will be expert voices contributing to the live pre-inauguration coverage on Friday, anchored by Couric and Bai with guests from across the American spectrum. Guests include Ann Graham Lotz, daughter of the Rev. Billy Graham, and millennial Muslim author Amani Al-Khatahtbeh.
“This will be different than from what you will see in a traditional cable news broadcast,” Maciulis promises.
Couric will leave the friendly confines of the anchor’s chair to hit the streets of Washington covering the Women’s March on Saturday. “She will be bringing interviews and conversations with the attendees, protesters in a much more unscripted, unplanned way,” said Maciulis. “We are excited for that, and for the weekend in general.”