Brian Stelter of the New York Times reports that ABC News and Yahoo have formed a partnership to share material and feature web video. Is this what MSNBC wanted to be 15 years ago?
The partnership, announced this AM on Good Morning America (disclosure: my old employers) was described as a “game changer” for network news, already considered a dying animal. ABC News and ABCNews.com already languish low-ish end of the major news brands in terms of Web and broadcast traffic, hope that joining forces will help that.
Yahoo, the #1 online news source (unconfirmed) has had its own bad news in the past few months, it’s struggling with stagnant advertising revenues, and last month fired CEO Carol Bartz. The alliance with ABC will bring Yahoo’s news site brand-name stars like the smooth-jazz-voiced Diane Sawyer and network-hopper Katie Couric.
Each Web site will have editorial independence, but the news organizations will share content, co-produce coverage of some news events and have “integrated bureaus” in New York, Washington and Los Angeles, according to a news release. In addition, to leverage its most visible broadcast presence, Good Morning America, ABC/Yahoo has launched a new online presence at
As with AOL’s (another dying dotcom dinosaur) acquisition of The Huffington Post earlier this year, the alliance is an example of two major media monsters joining forces to each become stronger on the Web, where audiences are fractured, other content is just a click away, and audience allegiance is fleeting.
With typical morning-anchor energy and enthusiasm, the anchors billed it as “a brand new partnership that is instantly going to become the No. 1 news source online.” That won’t be too hard for Yahoo News, assisted by the enormously popular (!) Yahoo home page, which is already #1 on its own. To wit, in August 2011, Yahoo had 81.2 MM unique visitors, CNN’s sites came in at #2 with 75.3 MM, and the aforementioned HuffPo-AOL was #3, with 56.7 MM, just edging out MSNBCm which had 55.6 MM. ABC News drew 24.4 million (thank you, ComScore).
Yahoo and ABC project that they will together reach 100 million visitors a month. Is that realistic? I’m not so sure yet, but ABC will definitely see a lot more traffic. As a broadcast news network without a 24-hour cable presence (they’ve considered it), it certainly may be more cost-effective and future-facing. As more and more folks are equipped with broadband video viewing capability, from home and mobile, utilizing the penetration of Yahoo and the brand credibility of ABC may be very useful. When MSNBC started in the mid-90s, it was hailed as a great partnership with giants of Computers and News, with the rise of the Internet. I thought it was a great idea at the time, but also ahead of itself: most people, if online at all, were on dial-up. A mobile phone, if you had one, was just a phone.
Now, 15+ years later, these technologies have matured, and there’s greater penetration (and consumer habit) of use. What’s this mean? There will be greater, and easier access to ABC News. All that good stuff that ABC News produces will be pushed out on the giant Yahoo network. Yahoo gets more news credibility, network-quality contents, and ABC network stars. With the launch of GoodMorningAmerica.com (which I need to play with, and report back on), they’re leveraging ABC’s most visible broadcast presence online. It’s the place that starts many mornings, has the glossiest headlines and talent (Hollywood and ABC), the most branded segments, and probably the most interactive audience. Let’s revisit this in a year, and see what happens.