Yahoo has made some noteworthy acquisitions since bringing CEO Marissa Mayer on board; Qwiki, Summly, and of course, Tumblr. But yesterday the “are we a media or are we a technology company?” further confused us as to the answer of that question by making one of its most notable acquisitions yet: Katie Couric.
Alright, so Yahoo didn’t technically acquire Couric. In reality, the TV news personality as been hired to head up Yahoo News, taking the title of Yahoo Global Anchor. “Starting in 2014, Katie will lead a growing team of correspondents at Yahoo News who will cover the world’s most interesting stories and newsmakers,” Mayer said in an announcement.
The move certainly adds yet more credence to the idea that new media is usurping old media, but beyond that, what are the other important factors? And what, if anything, does it indicate for the state of TV journalism? Let’s review.
Katie will continue.
Though Couric’s face will now pop up every day on the Yahoo homepage, her syndicated daytime talk show Katie isn’t going anywhere. At least, it isn’t yet: The show hasn’t recieved positive ratings, and as of late October was in danger of being cancelled. It’s possible that if Yahoo turns into a better platform for Couric, we’ll see Katie go the way of her short-lived stint anchoring the evening news.
… But she is done with ABC.
Yes, Katie will live to see another day – but Couric’s stint as an ABC News special correspondent is done. Which could make for an awkward day at the office for somebody at some point, because ABC News is one of Yahoo’s news partners. There could, perhaps, be some bleed-over between the two.
This is just the latest big name to join Yahoo.
Couric certainly brings an unprecedented amount of star power to Yahoo, as well as a long line of celebrity contacts who she has access to. Still, she’s not the only one Yahoo has courted and snagged: Esteemed journalists David Pogue, Megan Liberman, David Karp (the Tumblr founder), and Matt Bai have all signed on with Yahoo News. Mayer has also reportedly met with E! ringleader (and adorably elfin-like man) Ryan Seacrest about content creation ideas.
What is a “Global Anchor”?
Don’t spend too much time worrying about this; a “Global Anchor” is a made-up term that basically means Couric will lead the helm of Yahoo’s new team, and that their coverage will be internationally-focused. Also, it’s clear Mayer wanted to use the word “anchor” in Couric’s title so she could make a few bad nautical puns in the Tumblr blog post announcing the deal.
Another big win for video.
A significant part of this deal is that Couric will host video interviews and live news segments. It’s not as if Internet video content is an innovative new concept, but it’s predicted to be a huge focus in 2014 – especially as it applies to mobile and Web marketing. Having video segments – those featuring the likes of Couric and interviews with her famous friends, no less – is a very appealing feature to show off to interested advertisers. Yahoo is likely already seeing the advertising spots within these videos as a potential goldmine.
Do we finally know what sort of company Yahoo is?
For the past few years, Yahoo has been plagued by trying to define itself. The former Internet 1.0 behemoth has struggled in the age of social networking and user creation and curation, seemingly unable to adjust and evolve ably. So instead, Yahoo sort of tried the old “throw mud at the wall and see what sticks” approach: It made apps, it launched a new email client, dipped into Internet video curation, mulled a corporate takeover. All options were considered. Since bringing on Mayer, it would appear that Yahoo is edging significantly toward being a content producer. Its acquisitions would suggest it wants to attempt to lead the Internet into a new age of media, one that’s been organically happening and that has eluded traditional Web publishers (for the most part).
Of course, just because Yahoo is aggressively trying to become the leader in this new market doesn’t mean it will succeed. These are some very expensive gambles Yahoo and Mayer are taking, and there still remains some confusion as to what exactly Yahoo “does.” But at the same time, a lot of confusion remains for nearly every Web publisher or content platform (look no further than some of the chaos existing between Google’s products and its social network).
At least Yahoo is starting to put its finger on a focus – albeit a very ambitious one.