Yahoo! blue over loss of exec, content

Net company faces setbacks as Katz, Current log off

David Katz, the top Yahoo! sports and programming exec who led the company’s first consistent effort at original programming, ankled late last week, at the same time that the company abruptly lost what had been billed as a major video partnership with Current TV.

Moves, which are unrelated and come from different units at the Netco, are setbacks in Yahoo!’s efforts to beef up its content by engaging with traditional media companies and talent.

Katz, who formerly led CBS’ Internet efforts, joined Yahoo!’s Santa Monica-based Media Group, headed by Lloyd Braun, in summer 2005 to oversee sports and entertainment. Last spring, as part of a realignment at YMG, Katz was put in charge of Yahoo! Studios, a new unit that oversees original content development and production, while keeping his sports duties.

His departure is believed to have resulted from conflict with Braun, the former ABC prexy who took over Yahoo!’s media operations in late 2004.

Yahoo! Studios launched daily viral video show “The 9” this summer and is also producing a talent show for user-generated video and a weekly fantasy sports program. It has several other projects in development.

It’s not yet clear what impact Katz’s departure may have on the Yahoo! Studios strategy or who may replace him atop sports.

Separately, Current TV and Yahoo! Video, which isn’t part of YMG but operates out of the Netco’s Sunnyvale HQ, have abruptly ended their partnership.

Companies partnered in September, with digital cable net Current launching four broadband channels on Yahoo Video featuring user-generated content. A note on their joint site Friday said that that Yahoo! Current Network is no longer accepting submissions and that Current has terminated a contest related to the joint venture.

A Current spokesman told CNET News that the net is “exploring better opportunities to distribute our content.”