Kara Swisher

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Yahoo’s Mayer Now Chit-Chatting With Ryan Seacrest About Content Ideas

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Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer is tearing her way through the content celebrities, it seems.

First, news star Katie Couric. Then, prominent tech reviewer David Pogue.

Now, it seems, she has engaged herself in preliminary discussions with Ryan Seacrest’s multi-pronged entertainment production company about what one source called “interesting business opportunities.”

Oooh, I like interesting! Maybe a singing competition? Nope, he’s been there. Maybe a radio show? Yipes, he’s done that. Perhaps a New Year’s broadcast from New York’s Times Square. Does this guy get any sleep?

While Seacrest has indeed been all over the map, it’s largely been in traditional media zones like television. You may thank him now for unleashing the Kardashians upon the world, as well as the “Shahs of Sunset.”

But, the energetic media mogul has been increasingly interested in moving into the digital entertainment arena — he’s also been increasing his personal investing in the space.

Hence, Yahoo and Mayer, who has been personally using her own tech celeb status to try to interest a number of prominent media types to come look at the company as a viable platform for high-profile endeavors.

This has been tried by the Silicon Valley Internet giant many times before, mostly without a lot of groundbreaking. That said: Netflix’s “House of Cards,” people!

And, of course, Yahoo already has some great and successful — though less flashy — content efforts going, especially in sports and finance. These have been flat-out terrific over the years, though the new streaming content redesign does not do them any favors, IMHO.

Apparently, Mayer wants more.

Any deal with Seacrest would not be like the one that Couric is mulling with Yahoo. She is talking to Mayer about doing an interview show that would run on the Yahoo home page. And Pogue will be working on a consumer tech vertical that apparently needs staff.

Sources said it would be to create some kind of original content, though sources also said the discussions are too early to tell. But, I’d expect video to be a big element in all these efforts.

As I previously wrote:

Strengthening its online video efforts has been a recent key focus for Mayer in reviving Yahoo’s fortunes, along with mobile, and sources said that she has talked a lot internally about creating some kind of competitor to Google’s YouTube. Yahoo already tried unsuccessfully to buy France’s Dailymotion, and has since been mulling other major acquisitions in the space.

Mayer has waded into the arena herself (like I said, she’s a hey-look-at-me CEO) in an unusual — but highly entertaining — video presentation of Yahoo’s second-quarter earnings that was formulated in a news-broadcast style.

On the show — which it most certainly was — she stressed the intent to make video a “primary area of investment over the next year.” It’s not just for jazz-hands purposes; video ads are a big area of revenue growth online as traditional graphical ads fade. Yahoo itself has seen a sharp falloff of those key moneymaking ads under Mayer’s regime, part of a larger trend impacting everyone.

I pinged Yahoo for a comment, and a spokesperson for Seacrest declined to comment.


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