At Maker Studios, one of the biggest YouTube multichannel network operators, McPherson will report to exec chairman Ynon Kreiz. She will be tasked with leading the MCN’s recently announced plans to organize its content into new vertical brands — aiming to expand to more than 20 by early next year, with more than 100 new shows in development — and regroup its 55,000-plus channels into four units: men, women, family and entertainment programming.
McPherson has led Yahoo’s video acquisition and development, including launching Yahoo Studios and cutting deals with such partners as ABC News, CBS, Paramount and Broadway Video for “Saturday Night Live” clips. She joined the company in 2007 as VP of biz dev for Yahoo Media Network. Prior to joining Yahoo, McPherson was an entertainment attorney at Stone, Meyer, Genow, Smelkinson & Binder in Beverly Hills, Calif.
“Erin is one of the most respected executives in original online video content and has a track record of developing popular programming across a variety of categories; she understands large-scale online video production,” Kreiz said in a statement. “This is a key position for Maker as we plan to break the mold on traditional programming concepts and produce and distribute a large slate of original video content across our vertical hubs.”
McPherson, in a statement provided by Maker, said, “We are in the midst of a global media transformation as traditional content creation and distribution moves to scalable, digital-first platforms. No other company understands the creators leading this transformation and the millennial audience behind this shift better than Maker.”
In September, Culver City, Calif.-based Maker Studios raised $26 million in funding to expand its international footprint. It also acquired Blip, an online video distributor pioneer that Maker bought for its technology assets and distribution partnerships.
A Yahoo rep confirmed McPherson’s departure but did not indicate how the company would fill her role.
Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer has said video is a key pillar the company. In the past year, its video audience and views have declined: For the month of September 2013, Yahoo’s sites had 44.8 million U.S. unique visitors who watched 322.8 million videos, according to research firm comScore. That’s down from 57.4 million uniques and 498.5 million video views a year earlier.
Meanwhile, Yahoo is now left without an exec in charge of video — and, more broadly, without anyone leading its media strategy. In July, global media head Mickie Rosen, a former News Corp. and Disney exec, left Yahoo after two and a half years. Yahoo hasn’t said whether it is seeking a replacement for Rosen, but sources say it has been looking to recruit a media-industry exec for several months.