Yahoo pacts with reality TV producer

Deal with Rocket Science Laboratories likely will focus on short-form video that can be presented on both Web and TV.

In an increasingly rare collaboration with Hollywood, Yahoo has signed a production deal with the company behind reality shows such as Temptation Island and Joe Millionaire.

The Web behemoth's nonexclusive first-look pact with Rocket Science Laboratories will likely focus on short-form video that offers a degree of interactivity. The companies also are examining the possibility of migrating whatever content the deal yields back to the television platform. Neither would disclose any current projects being developed.

After former ABC Entertainment chief Lloyd Braun joined Yahoo in 2004, the company boosted its efforts to produce original programming. But even before Braun's ouster in late 2006, Yahoo had shifted its energies elsewhere.

Yahoo does have two other deals with production companies: Embassy Row, Who Wants to be a Millionaire? producer Michael Davies' firm responsible for the Yahoo daily series The 9, and Gotham Group, an animation specialist that has projects in development but no active programming on the site.

After more than a year of company missteps, Yahoo is struggling to chart a new strategy in the face of competition for its biggest advertisers from other sites offering graphical display ads.

Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang took over as CEO in June, replacing former Warner Bros. chief Terry Semel, and pledged to come up with a new plan within 100 days.

Yahoo's results have disappointed investors in five of the last six quarters, prompting the company's shares to drop more than 30 percent since the start of 2006. It has frequently been the target of merger speculation.

Rocket Science, meanwhile, ended an exclusive overall production deal with Fox last year. It continues to stay busy on the TV side, with Bull Run up next for Spike TV, as well as If Women Ruled the World for Fox.


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