In an effort to expand its online presence “Entertainment Tonight” will partner with the online portal Yahoo! in an exclusive content-swapping arrangement starting Sept. 25.
“We felt we had this useful content that was underexposed,” said Michael Mischler, executive VP of marketing for Paramount Domestic Television. “We were looking for a partner who could extend our reach and who was just as prolific in their world as we were in ours.”
Jim Moloshok, senior VP of media, entertainment, information and finance at Yahoo, said the agreement does not involve a monetary exchange.
“We think this is a perfect example of a cooperative relationship,” Mr. Moloshok said. “`ET’ gets the massive exposure and distribution across the Yahoo network; Yahoo gets from `ET’ the best breaking news coverage of the world of entertainment and access to top stars.”
The exchange calls for the “ET” Web site to move entirely under the Yahoo umbrella. The portal site will also be responsible for “ET’s” online ad sales, which Mr. Mischler noted has already been pre-sold for the Emmy Awards. In the coming months, “ET”/Yahoo “mini-sites” will be launched for the Sundance Film Festival, Grammy Awards, Cannes Film Festival and other events.
This is yet another move by Yahoo to work more closely with Hollywood, now that the big Web portal is overseen by Terry Semel, former co-chairman of Warner Bros. Mr. Moloshok and a number of others now at Yahoo worked with Mr. Semel at Warner Bros.
The partnership with “E.T.” was first tested during the 2003 Academy Awards telecast. “ET” provided Yahoo with celebrity interviews, Oscar archive clips and constant updates from the ceremony. The collaboration was called a success, drawing the lion’s share of Oscar fans from the official Academy Awards site to Yahoo.
A similar, though less extensive, partnership has been enjoyed by “ET” rival “Access Hollywood” with Yahoo competitor MSN since February 2002. “Access” executive producer Rob Silverstein accused “ET” of following his lead.
“Once again, as they do on the show, they’re just copying us,” Mr. Silverstein said. “But if I were getting their [Web site’s] page hits, I would look for a new deal too. They couldn’t do it on their own, so they’re going with somebody big.”
Mr. Mischler denied the “Access”/MSN partnership inspired “ET’s” arrangement with Yahoo and noted that “Access” owner NBC had a pre-existing content-sharing relationship with MSN in the form of MSNBC.
“I can categorically say it wasn’t prompted by anything they were doing,” Mr. Mischler said. “They’ve got a deal with their kissing cousin over there. We have two major separate companies with a far bigger reach and with far bigger players coming together. This is two leaders playing ball with each other.”
There are other differences between the arrangements as well. Both shows will provide current video clips to their Web partners, but “ET” will also produce extended versions of some segments and exclusive content for the Web. The ET deal is described as an even trade, while “Access Hollywood” pays MSN for hosting its site. Yahoo and “ET” will remain editorially independent, while MSN has a reporter embedded with the “Access” crew to file online updates.