Kara Swisher

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Yahoo Inks Content Deal With Former NBC Exec Ben Silverman


Yahoo has inked a premium content deal with former NBC entertainment head Ben Silverman, in which he will create content for the Internet portal.

Yahoo (YHOO) will sell the branded advertising for the online programming made by the controversial Hollywood exec.

Yahoo confirmed the deal, but did not elaborate on the financial details of the partnership.

Silverman left the broadcast television network under a cloud last year, but immediately announced he had struck a deal with Barry Diller’s IAC/InterActiveCorp (IACI) to form a studio–called Electus–to make multiplatform content that is backed by big brand advertisers.

If you think about it, Silverman is essentially copying a new kind of production company started several years ago by former ABC and Yahoo exec Lloyd Braun and his partner, Gail Berman.

Braun has created online programming for Microsoft (MSFT), including an innovative celebrity site called Wonderwall, as well as producing television shows for networks.

Silverman has talked more about doing online programming in episodic style, but much of what has been done online so far in this genre by many others has been only moderately successful.

Nonetheless, Joanne Bradford, SVP of North American revenue for Yahoo, told me in an interview that advertisers have been looking for opportunities to put their brands near quality content online.

“It is an area of great interest,” said Bradford. “And Yahoo, with its huge traffic, is a leader in selling premium ads on the Web.”

Yahoo is putting its hopes here in Silverman, who had been a successful producer of television programming in his early career.

But his tenure at NBC was marked by a lot of negative publicity about him personally and, more importantly, by a sharp downturn in ratings.

It will be interesting to see if the golden-child side of his talent is ascendant in the content he makes for Yahoo, which should begin to appear in several months.

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work