Smithberg tapped to produce online segs

HOLLYWOOD — Current TV, the youth-focused cable network launched by Al Gore and Joel Hyatt, is making its big online play, teaming with Yahoo! to launch four broadband channels featuring user-generated content.

In addition, net has hired “The Daily Show” co-creator Madeleine Smithberg to produce daily online packages for the site.

Though the year-old Current helped start the trend toward user-generated video, it has quickly been outpaced by Web sites such as YouTube. By partnering with Yahoo!’s vid-sharing site, cabler is hoping to insert its brand into the fast-growing Internet video market.

Current airs a 24-hour mix of studio-produced and user-generated content created by and for young people. Execs say at least one-third of the lineup is comprised of viewer-created submissions.

Deal should also give Current a big boost in exposure; network is available in a scant 30 million homes. Yahoo! plans to feature Current-branded vids on its videos site, as well as on its other Web sites when appropriate.

Pact may also help Yahoo! Video, which lags far behind YouTube, generate additional content and attention that could help it gain market share.

Current will program four channels for Yahoo! focused on Web buzz, action sports, autos and travel. For each, Current will produce one video package per day and also select five vids submitted by amateurs to highlight. Smithberg will oversee the former.

Though it has taken submissions online and streamed on-air content since its founding, Current is launching its Web venture relatively late. Most other cable nets aimed at the adults 18-34 demo already have their own broadband video channel, while there are literally hundreds of Web sites that feature user-generated videos.

“We have always viewed having a distribution platform on the Internet as critical to our vision, and we have been very careful in crating the very best strategy to achieve that,” said Current CEO Hyatt. “We did not want to be a destination site where anybody could put up whatever video they wanted. There are other sites that already do that very well.”

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