Al Gore Says Yahoo!

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Al Gore’s venture into “viewer-created” video content booted Google to the bottom of the half-hour.

Current TV, the San Francisco-based pay television service, at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday launched a handful of online-video channels in concert with Yahoo!, the Web portal with a collection of sites visited by more computer users than any other.

The four channels employ both brands. They include: Yahoo! Current Buzz, which promises a daily video report on what’s “buzzing the world and on the Web”; Yahoo! Current Action, which will feature sports videos created by athletes and participants; Yahoo! Current Drive, about exotic cars; and Yahoo! Current Traveler, a “globe-spanning bulletin board” of reports from travelers about places they visit. Four more channels -- subject matter unknown -- will be launched later.

“This will be the premium video offering,” online, Current CEO Joel Hyatt said.

The alliance with Yahoo! gives Current a way to potentially leapfrog the darling of user-generated video content, YouTube, as well as the rapidly expanding social network, MySpace, in reaching a mass audience with its combination of professionally produced and amateur-produced video reports.

The alliance will affect not just Current’s approach to delivering video to computer users through the Internet; but what is shown on the cable and satellite TV network.

Until now, the “buzz” on the Net was captured in a feature called Google Current that appeared at the top and bottom of the hour on the digital Current network that appears on Comcast and Time Warner Cable systems; as well as direct-broadcast satellite service DirecTV.

Now, Google Current gets dropped to the bottom of the hour. Appearing at the top will be Yahoo! Current and its take on what’s causing buzz on the Web and in the world.

Current appears to have struck its online partnership largely on the basis of reach. Yahoo!’s sites were visited by 129.4 million computer users in July, according to ComScore Media Metrix. Google’s sites, by contrast, were visited by 103.9 million. MySpace had 54.5 million visitors; YouTube 16.1 million.

Yahoo!’s reach could be salve to Current’s wound. Current launched Aug. 1, 2005, and it had devoted its Web site largely to teaching computer users how to create videos that could be compelling and appear on its TV network. YouTube launched, formally, in December 2005, and it quickly overtook Current in becoming the standard-bearer for and favorite site of individuals wanting to produce their own videos and get them viewed worldwide. At last estimate, videos posted to YouTube got watched more than 100 million times each day.

The Yahoo! Current channels are rather modest in the amount of content they will present each day, however.

One professionally produced segment will be generated and appear each day on each Yahoo! Current channel, said Jason Zajac, Yahoo!’s vice president and general manager for its Social Media Group. Another half-dozen or so new clips created by viewers will be added each day to each channel.

To date, each Current video clip or “pod,” in its vernacular, runs between two and five minutes, in general.

Besides allying with the most-visited set of Web sites extant, Current gets a couple other pieces of buzz in this overhaul of its approach to delivering video online.

Producing the daily features on Yahoo! Current Buzz will be Madeleine Smithberg, the co-creator and former executive producer of Comedy Central’s The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

And the first viewer-submitted feature on Yahoo! Current Traveler comes from Bono, the iconic lead singer of Irish rock band U2. The subject matter of his directorial debut: “A Day in the Life of The Edge,” shot in Miami.

In case you’re trying to follow the bouncing balls at the intersection of the Internet, television and rock 'n' roll, The Edge is the stage name of David Howell Evans, the lead guitarist for U2.

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