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Yahoo casting wide net in order to draw viewers to original online programming

BANFF, Alta. - Yahoo's move toward original programming has opened the door for a niche market that is allowing fresh, new content to find a viable audience, says the man who oversees the Canadian media market for the company.

"It provides more freedom. It's more of the Wild West where you can create content that may not resonate with an audience on TV but can work in specific niches on the web," Dan Unger, head of media market Canada for Yahoo, said at the Banff World Media Festival.

"For us, because the costs are somewhat lower, you don't need as big an audience and so it allows more of the niche content and niche programming to work and resonate," he added.

"You don't have to have a three year contract. You can hit 100,000 people and you've got a successful business model whereas on network TV it requires a larger audience."

Unger, who was promoting the new shows in Banff and hearing pitches from those hoping to do programs of their own, said there are already hundreds of hours of programming available on the Yahoo website.

It already has 45 original shows and Unger expects that number to be in the 55 to 60 range by the end of the year.

The original programming is aimed at specific or niche audiences including women, men and fans of comedy. He said in terms of audience it tends to skew a little bit toward female but Yahoo thinks it has the right kind of content to meet everyone's needs.

"They can search for it or get it on Yahoo. Similarly we just launched a show last week called 'Burning Love' which is a spinoff of 'The Bachelor,'" Unger explained.

"It's done by Ben Stiller and his production partner. It's a very funny show and it sort of takes the same tenets of 'The Bachelor' but we have our cast of ladies that are looking to meet our own bachelor," he said.

Much of the buzz surrounds 'Cybergeddon,' the brainchild of Anthony Zuiker, the creator of the massively popular "CSI" franchise, which is being filmed in Hamilton. Due to premiere in September, it stars Montreal native Missy Peregrym ("Rookie Blue") as an agent investigating efforts to launch a worldwide cyber attack of epic proportions.

"It's a 90 minute series. We're going to be cutting that up into segments and it's original content that's going to live exclusively on Yahoo," added Unger. "It's really TV quality content that's going to reach our audience of 14 million."

Yahoo doesn't reveal how much money it expects to make from its web programming but Unger said it is paying the bills and "then some."

Yahoo isn't alone in its pursuit of online revenue.

Google has aggressively been pushing for content creators to use its online video platform, YouTube, as a delivery vehicle for new shows and films. YouTube recently underwent a major redesign emphasizing channels that encourage users to watch strings of short videos together.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2012
The Canadian Press

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