Former NBC Entertainment chief Ben Silverman’s online studio has entered into an exclusive partnership to develop content for Yahoo and its advertisers.
The new studio, Electus, is billed as one that “will connect advertisers, distributors and content creators early on in the development process, enabling marketers and advertisers to be a true partner in campaigns and content creation.” In other words, the ad guys call the shots.
The approach isn’t entirely new. While at NBC Universal, one of Silverman’s initiatives was tearing down whatever wall remained between network programming and advertising. His flop revival of “Knightrider” and the reality show “Restaurant” both oozed with content regarding their sponsors (Ford and American Express, respectively).
Electus also made a “first look” deal with Will Arnett and Jason Bateman’s ad-driven production company DumbDumb, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
The Yahoo and DumbDumb deals were announced at the Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas.
“Yahoo is bringing together the worlds of entertainment and advertising to build differentiated experiences that help redefine branded entertainment,” buzz-worded Joanne Bradford of Yahoo in a press release announcing the Electus-IAC-Yahoo deal.
The embattled Silverman left NBC last fall, looking for a soft landing at Barry Diller’s IAC. This is the first major move since then.
Yahoo’s Media Group has been seeking to expand its activities in webisodes and similar scripted content, as CEO Carol Bartz tries to reinvent the Yahoo brand. Yahoo’s best trafficked online show is “Prime Time in No Time,” which dashes through highlights of the previous night’s primetime and late-night shows.
Silverman’s career caught fire while he was a William Morris talent agent in London. He formed an independent production company, Reveille, which imported “The Office” (from the U.K.) and “Ugly Betty” (from Colombia).
Silverman was hired to run the TV unit of NBC Universal, but his tenure took a hit during the writers strike and fizzled out after a couple of years. His contract was not renewed last summer. Time magazine summed up his performance by dubbing him the “No-Hit Hitmaker.”
The decision to move Jay Leno into the 10 p.m. primetime slot was made by Silverman’s boss, Jeff Zucker, but the entertainment chief failed to defend his 10 p.m. turf.