Peter Kafka

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Marissa Mayer Makes a Media Deal

The Marissa Mayer messaging is that Yahoo’s new CEO is about product, not media. But that doesn’t mean she’s shutting down everything her predecessor Ross Levinsohn was working on.

Example: Yahoo has struck a deal with Wenner Media, which lets the Us Weekly and Rolling Stone publisher get its stuff on Yahoo’s site and vice versa.

The pact is roughly similar to deals Levinsohn’s team made with the likes of ABC News: Yahoo will get some real estate on Wenner Media’s sites, and the Wenner folks will get dedicated space on Yahoo Music and Yahoo’s OMG entertainment portal. Here’s what the Us Weekly integration looks like on OMG:

Wenner will be able to sell its Yahoo pages to advertisers and will share the revenue with Yahoo, says David Kang, who started running digital for Wenner this year. (Kang replaced Michael Bloom, who left after a six-month stint.)

That means Wenner can offer a lot more reach than it could before. Yahoo Music and OMG boast some 46 million unique users, and Us Weekly and Rolling Stone have a combined audience of 10 million.

The two companies will also work together creating new properties that should appear on both sites. Both ventures will be video-centric: For Yahoo Music, a series of in-studio, behind-the-scenes footage of musicians that Rolling Stone will procure; OMG will get a new batch of red carpet videos via Us Weekly.

For Yahoo, the deal is worth noting because it’s the culmination of a deal that started while Levinsohn was still running the place. It was shepherded by Mickie Rosen, a Levinsohn lieutenant who has stayed on in the new regime.

Kang says he figures it was particularly attractive to Mayer because “we have every reason to believe she’s a huge Us Weekly fan.”

But if Mayer’s interests extend beyond gossip and music, you may see some more of these deals down the line. One likely candidate would be a tie-up with Comcast’s NBC Sports unit, which has reportedly been in the works for some time.


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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald