I heard Wenda Millard speak a couple of months ago at a digital-media luncheon, and she assured the audience that Yahoo was not planning to become a major provider of original content. This was meant to address competitive concerns from media outlets that use Yahoo as a distributor of their content. (Millard is, after all, the company’s chief sales officer.)
But she also mentioned that within months Yahoo’s new Santa Monica facilities, where the media group is housed, would employ 1,000 people. This seemed to indicate a different scenario, especially given that Lloyd Braun, head of Yahoo Media and former hit-maker at ABC, had recently unveiled Yahoo News’ first original programming — Kevin Sites’ war reportage — with great fanfare.
Braun’s strategy-shift announcement today (login required) sheds some light on the discrepancy. Turns out he’s a new-media convert and has now shelved many of his initial plans. Instead of TV-like ventures, he will focus his team’s efforts on user-generated content. Which signals the studios and networks that they should rest easy on the competitive front.
But with plans for original content creation scaled back, what will those 1,000 Santa Monica Yahoos do in their grand new space? Do you really need that many people to repurpose and repackage user-generated and partnership content? The question seems to remain: Will Yahoo become a major original-content creator or will it continue act primarily as a distributor of other people’s content?