March 23, 2006

’60 Minutes’ in Web News Tie-up with Yahoo

By Michele Gershberg

NEW YORK -- CBS Corp. will showcase segments of its "60 Minutes" television news magazine on the popular Internet portal Yahoo as the TV network seeks to rope in a wider audience for news programs, the companies said on Thursday.

The tie-up will begin at the start of the 2006-2007 broadcast season in the third quarter, when "60 Minutes" will launch its 39th year on the air. The two companies will split Internet advertising revenue from the venture.

Each week, following the Sunday night broadcast of "60 Minutes," viewers can turn to a dedicated Yahoo site that will expand on segments seen during the program, with unaired footage as well as archival material and blogs.

"I hope and expect we are going to reach people with our material that might not otherwise be watching and ... drive more people to the mother ship," Jeff Fager, executive producer of "60 Minutes," told Reuters.

The site will feature special "60 Minutes" segments created for Yahoo and a peak at upcoming broadcasts. A preview of the service will be available on March 26, including an interview with golfer Tiger Woods.

"What you get on Yahoo is an expanded version of different moments in the story," Fager said. For example, Woods talks about his views on race and family during the televised interview, with more extensive comments appearing online.

CBS has sought to shake up its daily Evening News program to gain younger viewers and last year beefed up its Web site with expanded features and original reporting. The media company had also discussed putting "60 Minutes" episodes online with Internet search leader Google.

"60 Minutes" will produce the content for the Yahoo site and Fager expects to hire five or six more people for the task.

"We will be working in connection with them to choose the topical content for a particular week," said Scott Moore, vice president of content operations at Yahoo.

Moore said Yahoo would promote the news segments on suitable areas of its Internet network, such as Yahoo Sports for the Woods interview, and sell the advertising space on the "60 Minutes" Web version. Auto maker Buick bought up all of the Web advertising for the Woods preview package, Yahoo said.

Yahoo has backed away from more ambitious plans to deliver a slate of its own programming but said it will focus more on tailoring news and entertainment content to the Internet.

The CBS venture "is a perfect example of the kind of relationship we are building," said Moore. "We have a lot of expertise in the online space but we need partners."

Yahoo's Web sites draw an estimated 126 million users per month, while "60 Minutes" has an average weekly viewership of 14 million people.