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ABC, Yahoo Expand Partnership with ‘GMA’ Segment, Katie Couric Reports

ABC and Yahoo are expanding their partnership to include a daily segment on “Good Morning America” built around personalities from Yahoo, broader distribution of clips from ABC shows and special programming contributed by Yahoo global news anchor Katie Couric.

The deal is designed for both sides to expand the reach of their content as media audiences become more splintered. Couric’s involvement would also seem to put to rest speculation that the former “Today” anchor might be heading back to NBC amid the shakeup at NBC News.

ABC and Yahoo struck a digital alliance in 2011. The expansion of that relationship is expected to be announced Thursday during “GMA.”

“We see it as a bet on the mobile future,”James Goldston, president of ABC News, told Variety in an interview conducted in his office at ABC News’ New York headquarters. “We just want to make sure that our journalism is in front of as many people as possible and that we are reaching out to a new generation in all the ways they want to consume content. We think this will help us tremendously.”

The ABC News-Yahoo alliance is one of many new efforts that have traditional purveyors of news teaming up with experts in digital distribution in a bid to keep their content in front of a rising generation that increasingly turns to mobile, digital and social outlets to scan the latest headlines and even conduct deeper research of current events. NBCUniversal, for example, has made investments in Re/code, the tech-news outlet owned by Revere Digital, and Now This News, a provider of short-form video through mobile and social-media outlets. In 2013, Pew Research Center found via a survey extrapolation that 82% of Americans said they got news on a desktop or laptop and 54% said they got news on a mobile device.

Citing data from comScore, the companies said their alliance reaches over 129 million people across the partners’ combined digital platforms every month. Now, the deeper collaboration will mean ABC News content will be seen more frequently across Yahoo and be featured more prominently, said Colby Smith,  VP of ABC News Digital. Executives expect the pact to more than double ABC’s traffic.

The  deal will for the first time incorporate other types of ABC content. Special clips from shows like “Scandal,” “How to Get Away with Murder,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Pretty Little Liars,” “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” and “Dancing With the Stars,” will be available on Yahoo Screen and Yahoo TV. “We’re happy that the fans of our shows will now be able to have access to them through Yahoo with this enhanced deal,” said Paul Lee, president of ABC Entertainment Group, in a statement.

For Yahoo, the pact brings a new spotlight on the company’s growing content efforts. Yahoo last year began to launch a series of digital magazines centered around topics like food and technology in a bid to increase its share of advertising dollars. Starting March 16, “Good Morning America” will in its last half hour air a daily segment called “Yahoo Your Day” that features Yahoo editorial personnel, including Joe Zee, editor in chief of Yahoo Style; Bobbi Brown, editor in chief of Yahoo Beauty; Michele Promaulayko, editor in chief of Yahoo Health; and Kerry Diamond, editor in chief of Yahoo Food.

“We look forward to sharing their magazine content in a fresh new format every morning on ‘Good Morning America’,” said Kathy Savitt, Yahoo’s chief marketing officer and head of media, in a statement. Images from Yahoo’s Flickr photo-sharing app will be incorporated into the morning program’s weather reports, and Yahoo’s Tumblr blogging platform will be featured in GMA’s “Social Square” pieces.

Couric, who recently had a deal as a contributor to ABC News, could see her Yahoo reports as well as original productions appear on ABC, Goldston said. “Most of the time there will be a Yahoo part of it and a broadcast part of it,” he said. “They may be from the same interview, just put forward in different ways.”

But he also said Couric could contribute pieces to shows like “Nightline” and even produce original specials for the network as part of the agreement. “You can expect to see her bring all kinds of exclusive interviews and some of the in-depth things that she has been doing.”

The first pact between Yahoo and ABC News was believed to have lasted about three years, with some of the intervening time devoted to negotiations. Goldston and Smith declined to comment on terms of the first agreement or the current one.

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