‘Insider’ undergoes brand change

Yahoo collaborating with entertainment newsmagazine

Marriages of Internet and TV properties continue apace, as both mediums seek the benefits of what the other has to offer.

The latest nuptials were unveiled Tuesday when CBS TV Distribution and Yahoo confirmed plans to relaunch the Eye’s syndie showbiz newsmag “The Insider” as “OMG! Insider” in January. The deal calls for Yahoo’s OMG! entertainment news and gossip sites to provide clips and content to the syndie strip, while the “OMG!” sites will be the exclusive Web home of “Insider” vids.

The impetus for the “Insider”-OMG! union reflects the fundamental shift in the way viewers consume entertainment and celeb news on a virtually 24/7 basis on blogs and websites. The proliferation of online outlets has chipped away at the timeliness of newsmags such as “Entertainment Tonight,” “Access Hollywood,” “Extra” and “The Insider,” all of which have suffered steadily declining ratings since their heydays in the 1980s and ’90s.

The big appeal for CBS in teaming with Yahoo is the potential to reach a younger, digital savvy aud. Like other TV news programs, the syndie newsmags tend to skew to the 50-plus aud; the median age of “Insider’s” aud hovers around 55.

With such a demo disparity present between broadcast and online content, collaborative efforts between TV and digital brands are aiming to bridge the gap.

“These online brands are very powerful with 30, 40, 50 million people using them,” digital media analyst Mike Vorhaus of Magid Advisors told Variety . “They have a lot of distribution and can drive people from the website to a TV show.”

Vorhaus anticipates seeing more Web brands transition to TV. Vorhaus points to the successful adaptation of website TMZ as a syndie strip (and “Insider” competitor) as the “grandfather of that example.”

While teaming will extend “Insider’s” brand exposure to younger OMG! readers, it’s unclear whether that youthful aud will transition over to the “OMG! Insider” viewership. Even TMZ’s edgy newsmag “TMZ on TV” has a median age of 45.

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer said the pact would further Yahoo’s goal of “bringing the most personalized and relevant information to our users. Original video content and branded multi-screen programming help us to deliver on that promise.”

ComScore traffic stats from August put “OMG!’s” unique visitors at close to 30 million, while theinsider.com reached less than 1.5 million. After rebranding, theinsider.com will not ultimately shut down, but rather redirect traffic to the website of “Entertainment Tonight,” another CBS TV Distribution property with a higher profile in the showbiz news arena.

Kevin Frazier and Brooke Anderson will continue as “Insider” hosts while Yahoo’s Kristen Aldridge and Michael Yo will contribute. Linda Bell Blue, exec producer of “The Insider” and “Entertainment Tonight,” will exec produce the rebranded program along with Brad Bessey, who will also serve as showrunner.

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