Newest Yahoo venture moves full stream ahead

Visitors to Yahoo Broadcast can watch streaming video, view dynamic Web content, and browse Yahoo's library of streaming video programming all at the same time in the same browser window. Yahoo has added a few content partners to its lineup for the launch, including the court-side commentary of CourtTV.com, comedy from National Lampoon, and animation from Wild Brain.

Experts say Yahoo Broadcast will better position its multimedia content and the streaming technology that it purchased from Broadcast.com in 1999 for $US5 billion.

"It's a good starting point for Yahoo," says Aram Sinnreich, senior analyst with Jupiter Media Metrix.

Sinnreich believes Yahoo is turning up the volume on its broadband content as more of its users get high-speed access to the Net. Of the roughly 50 million US online homes, 9 per cent have high-speed access to the Internet, according to researchers at Cahners In-Stat.

In fact, Yahoo has been eyeing multimedia opportunities for some time, believing the technology is tied to broadband adoption. Founder Jerry Yang recently said he believes broadband penetration is sufficient to support more streaming media online.

Seeking new streams

Yahoo also sees the streaming media destination as a potential vehicle to boost sagging banner advertising revenue with TV-like advertising tied to e-commerce. Upon launch, Yahoo Broadcast will have two advertisers, Travelocity.com and Level 3, says Dave Mandelbrot, general manager of Yahoo Entertainment. He says streaming content will have commercial breaks similar to television.

A review of a pre-launch version of the site launches a separate window to Yahoo Broadcast's selection. Yahoo then prompts you to run a test to check your connection speed, and to make sure you have appropriate browser plug-ins. The basic service requires either Windows Media Player or RealNetworks RealPlayer software.

Yahoo is not alone in trying to lure audiences with streaming video and broadband-tailored programs. Rivals Excite@Home, America Online (with its AOL Plus broadband service), and Lycos each offer broadband-enhanced versions of their portals.

"The interesting thing here is that broadband is a new land of opportunity nobody has figured out how to conquer," says analyst Sinnreich. Yahoo Broadcast has a unique approach in mixing static Web content and streaming video.

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Tom Spring

PC World
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