Yahoo, which has long been criticized for not better monetizing its business model, is branching out its content-creation business in a new way: It's going into a partnership with a regional cable television provider to help deliver sports news, features and talk for both TV and the Web.
Comcast SportsNet Bay Area, based in San Francisco, and Yahoo Sports announced a partnership May 31 to produce Yahoo SportsTalk Live, a new hourlong sports roundtable discussion show featuring opinionated commentary, in-depth analysis and debate on the day's trending sports and entertainment stories.
Yahoo SportsTalk Live will make its debut Monday, June 3 at 5 p.m. PST. The inaugural show will be telecast live on location from the Yahoo campus in nearby Sunnyvale, Calif.
The deal is the first of its kind between a television network and a top-tier Web services provider. The plans are for sports content to be broadcast on television and on the Web and be made available on any device a user wants to employ, Comcast SportsNet Bay Area President Ted Griggs told eWEEK.
Could Become a Model for Others
It is possible that if this all works out the way it's intended to work, that it will be a de-facto pilot program for the 12 other Comcast regional sports networks in the United States.
Since April 2009, Comcast SportsNet Bay Area had a deal with Hearst Corp.'s San Francisco Chronicle that is now expiring. In that agreement, Chronicle sportswriters and columnists--including nationally known writers Scott Ostler, Ray Ratto and Ann Killion--appeared nightly on the "Chronicle Live" show, discussing sports news and offering analysis about various teams and players.
In the new agreement with Yahoo, most of the same Chronicle writers will continue to work alongside the Yahoo sports staff, Griggs said.
"The Chronicle has been a great partnership for us, we want to emphasize that," Griggs said. "We just want to expand our coverage. We want to take advantage of the many assets that Yahoo has, so that we can use them and some of the technology that Yahoo brings to the table, to make the show a little bit more vibrant."
Extra Content Will Be a Byproduct of the Deal
In addition to the daily evening televised sports show, Griggs said, the deal with Yahoo will make available extra exclusive content -- such as continued conversations from the broadcast show, additional interviews, and so on -- on both CSNBayArea.com and Yahoo.com's sports site.
"There's this new technology called GlowPoint, which are these very high-quality HD cameras that transmit via the Internet, as opposed to satellite or fibre, and will allow us to interact with many of Yahoo's correspondents from various places," Griggs said. It's like a very high-definition Skype, he said.
"There's no substituting having somebody in a studio in a face-to-face discussion, but if, say, (Yahoo sportswriter) Mark Spears is at the NBA Finals, and we want to be able to talk to him at any time, we can do that through this technology," Griggs said.
Yahoo Analytics Will Bring Trending Topics into Play
Yahoo will help Comcast SportsNet Bay Area keep up on what's trending, Griggs said, through its use of website analytics. Viewers on the web or on television can register their likes and dislikes about the conversations on the air, and also offer their opinions on various topics.
"The show won't just be interactive, but viewers will be more influencial in terms of what the content of the show is," Griggs said. "Yahoo is able to tell what people are most interested in--right now. They know what the metrics are telling us at that instant. And that's pretty cool."
Comcast SportsNet Bay Area's studios are in downtown San Francisco, and NBC affiliate KNTV is located in San Jose, Calif. SportsNet, which covers Giants and A's baseball, Warriors NBA basketball and several local colleges (including Stanford University, UC Berkeley, USF, Santa Clara and San Jose State), has two cable channels that share nightly sports news with the NBC station.
Fans can interact with Yahoo SportsTalk Live through CSNBayArea.com, Facebook (Facebook.com/CSNBayArea), and Twitter (@YSTL). Viewer comments will be addressed by host Jim Kozimor and his panel of guests.
This is not the first business transaction between Comcast, which owns NBC Universal, and Yahoo. Yahoo and the NBC Sports Group signed a joint-venture content and promotional deal in December 2012 which combines Yahoo's sports coverage with NBC's team.
NBC Sports Regional Networks consist of 13 local networks that deliver more than 2,400 sporting events annually, along with breaking news and comprehensive analysis, to more than 50 million cable and satellite homes.