NYTimes reports that Yahoo! is backing off its big plans to create television-style original content for the Web. Fears that Yahoo original content will alienate movie studios and television networks appears to be behind this shift in strategy. In that sense, I can understand Yahoo focusing more on the other two pillars of its content empire: 'professional' content from traditional media companies (like ABC, Universal and the like); and 'user-generated' content. But actually this latest announcement is, I think, more a case of Yahoo re-defining what it means by "original content" - rather than backing off it.The
Remember at last year's Web 2.0 Conference when Yahoo CEO Terry Semel outlined his vision for Yahoo as a media company? From my notes at the time:
"Yahoo is all about content" --> user-generated, professional, and the future of what content may be (which Yahoo will try to take a leadership position in designing).
I still think Yahoo has much to offer the world by taking a leadership position in defining 'the future of content'. It will undoubtedly include Internet video, multimedia and lots of input/output from general users. I think most Hollywood studios and US television networks will be slow to pick up on these opportunities, although some players like News Corp appear to be making headway.
Yahoo has a lot to offer in this sense of 'original content', so it'd be a shame to see them back off those types of opportunities completely. I don't think they will, I expect they're just shifting tack (re-defining) and re-assuring traditional media that Yahoo won't compete (much) against them. I mostly agree with what Fred Wilson pointed out:
"The challenge is all about how to take the work of the masses and assemble it into compelling content. The company that figures that out will do very well."
...with the provisio that original content in the Internet era still requires expertise in its creation, so there's nothing wrong with Yahoo trying to create some of its own. But it's not simply a case of media companies producing "proprietary-content" anymore, as Henry Blodget put it. Original content on the Web will be much more a mix of professional and user-generated than what Lloyd Braun originally planned for.
Flickr pic by Thomas Hawk