Webcaster's stock a hot commodity

Shares of Netcaster Broadcast.com jumped nearly $32 Monday on news that Internet giant Yahoo! is interested in acquiring the online broadcaster of video and audio content.

Industry observers said executives from Santa Clara-based Yahoo!, including CEO Timothy A. Koogle and co-founder Jerry Yang, were in talks with Dallas-based Broadcast.com over a possible merger.

Broadcast.com airs streaming audio and video, including news broadcasts, live concerts, sports and other events, over the Internet. It’s been one of the hottest Internet stocks since it went public last summer.

In a move that adds films to its list of programming, the company inked a deal with Trimark Holdings in February to begin screening at least 50 pics from Trimark’s library, including its “Warlock” and “Leprechaun” series, for free or pay-per-view.

Investors embraced the speculation, sending Broadcast.com’s stock up $31.50 to close $116.50, a gain of 37%. Shares of Yahoo! dropped $5 to end the day at $165.

Expanding range of content

Yahoo! has been trying to broaden its audience by pursuing acquisitions. The merger would come at a time when rich media content, like audio and video clips, is becoming ever more available on the Internet.

The portal was used by more than 50% of all U.S. Internet users in February, according to Internet researcher Media Metrix.

Yahoo! and Broadcast.com said separately that it is their policy not to comment on market rumors.

NBC-backed Internet portal Snap.com, meanwhile, unveiled an extensive overhaul of its online service Monday. The new service will enable users to search for audio and video clips online the way they currently search for printed-word content.

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