Yahoo!'s Yang sees broadband boom

Ignoring Disney-Yahoo! merger rumours, Yang beats the drum for broadband at Streaming Media West 2000

Yahooligans are starting to get a little giddy about Yahoo!'s possible purchase of Walt Disney.

The rumours have circulated for months. Here at Streaming Media West 2000, Yahoo! employees are starting to joke about it, wondering aloud at an after-hours bash Tuesday whether they'll get to "the land" and enjoy a few free rides.

But not Yahoo! cofounder Jerry Yang.

Yang was all business during his 35-minute address to conference attendees here Wednesday -- evangelising an audience of digital music pros on the notion that broadband is here, now. "Over the last two or three years, we can safely say broadband is here today, it is here now," he said.

Yang hopes that, in 2001, Yahoo! will see the same type of growth in the consumption of streaming media by Internet users as it has over the past year. On Tuesday, Nielsen//Net Ratings reported an overall increase in the use of streaming media of about 65 percent.

"We've seen similar kinds of growth on consumption on our site," he said. According to Streaming Media managing editor Greg Frame, is "now arguably one of the most successful streaming companies, period."

Buyout rumours aside, Yahoo! and Disney have struck up a broadband relationship. Under the terms of a content deal announced Monday, Yahoo! News will webcast video from ABC News, World News Tonight and Good Morning America.

On Wednesday, Yahoo! added more content to a streaming media line up that's been expanding ever since the June release of Yahoo! Player, which was panned by critics. The latest addition: a one-stop, streaming studio in a box, which Yang said allows for the "automated production" of webcasts.

Besides the ABC News deal, Yahoo! has signed content deals in the US with the National Basketball Association, and has been streaming live play-by-play coverage of NCAA and National Football League games. There have also been a series of one-time events, including the strange combination of Yahoo! and Swatch teaming up to beam out a fashion show of watch-wearing models from the Great Wall of China.

It's also stepped up its Yahoo! Finance Vision, which is set to become the Web's answer to the Financial News Network or CNBC, but with interactive elements and on a much smaller screen.

Live video of financial talking heads and market reports has been was streamed eight hours a day, Monday through Friday, since the beginning of March. It's been expanded.

The company has also reached an agreement with the Recording Industry Association of America on the terms under which it can broadcast music over its Yahoo! Broadcast property, which provides content from 525 Internet-only radio stations.

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