Yahoo’s TV Foray Signals Growing Interest in New Formats

Adding another page to the growing list of TV shows debuting in new formats, Yahoo announced yesterday that it is teaming up with CBS Television to air free episodes of two of its popular prime-time comedies.

Yahoo TV began presenting the network sitcoms, “Two And A Half Men” and “How I MetYour Mother,” on Monday, marking the first time a Web portal has streamed afull-length CBS show. Future installments will air every Monday night with nocommercials and remain available to viewers for a week.

Yahoo’s latest move illustrates a fast-moving trend on the part ofbroadcasters to launch their programming in digital venues. Warner Bros.,for example, recently made some of its classic shows available online.

NBC and ABC are also offering programs for download to Apple Computer’svideo iPod through its popular iTunes store. Then there is the wirelessversion of pervasive TV. Call it an epiphany that there are different audiences for different mediums.

Wireless TV

On the wireless side of the equation, Verizon is upping the ante in a partnership with CBS Television, with the announcement that its V Cast multimedia service will stream some of CBS Television’s most-watched programs — including “CSI,” “Survivor,” David Letterman and “Entertainment Tonight” — beginning this month.

CBS chose a selection of its most popular content brands across prime time,late night and syndication for its first venture into the cell-phonearena.

Cingular Wireless has also announced an on-demand streaming videoservice. Dubbed Cingular Video, it debuts in a partnership withHBO, promising viewers personalized access to high-quality clips onhigh-speed-capable phones.

Cingular Video plans to begin offering customized content — including news,sports, weather and entertainment clips — early next year. Cingular iscurrently offering expanded ringtones, graphics and messaging, as well asexclusive entertainment content, including trivia and games, to consumers’wireless phones.

Multimedia Messaging

A trend toward multimedia innovation is sweeping the tech industry, said Jason Dowdell, publisher of MarketingShift, a blog focused on media research and technology.

“It’s not just video but every form of media in every format imaginable andcombined in ways we’ve yet to even think about,” he told TechNewsWorld. “The Internet is making the sharing of video, audio, text, etc., easier and easier — sothis small trend with TV is only going to get bigger.”

There’s another aspect of this subject to consider: competition between Yahoo andGoogle. Yahoo owns New York City, and New York City is all about TV,music and fame, Dowdell said.

“Who had a doubledecker tour bus painted purple with huge Yahoo logos on itfor the Howard Stern Party? Yahoo. Who has ads on top of every taxi at theend of each Apprentice episode? Yahoo. Who did a charity event on theApprentice in NYC? Yahoo,” he pointed out.

Where is Google in NYC? Nobody knows, according to Dowdell.

“While Google and AOL are figuring out what they’re going to do, Yahoohas already made several moves,” he noted. Yahoo has gotten the attention of Madison Avenue, and he’s not sure Google — or anyone — can catch up.

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