"Even though we'd prefer viewers to watch Showtime on a huge high-definition flat screen TV, we're never going to attract the 120 million page views that Yahoo! gets every day," said Mark Greenberg, executive vice president of corporate strategy and communications at Showtime.
Yahoo! will stream the first show simultaneously with the 10 p.m. March 7 broadcast, and will make the show available online through March 12.
Greenberg added that Yahoo! was a more attractive partner than its rivals because Yahoo!'s offerings are available for free. "This publicity stunt is aimed at the biggest, broadest audience," said Greenberg.
In January, Yahoo! drew 39.6 million unique visitors looking for information on movies, television, games, and music. That is more than competitor America Online, which drew 31.1 million, and MSN, which pulled in 19.7 million unique visitors. Yahoo! TV drew 4.6 million unique visitors in January.
AOL has streamed complete network programs before, such as The WB's "Jack & Bobby," which was made available only to AOL subscribers last summer. More recently, AOL has made a push to attract non-subscribers by offering streaming video at its no-charge portal site, AOL.com.
Yahoo! considers the "Fat Actress" video editorial content, and Yahoo! "does not proactively seek advertising for editorial," explained a Yahoo! spokeswoman.
Yahoo! has made no secret of its designs to offer more entertainment content on the Web, and many Yahoo! top brass have deep connections with Hollywood. Terry Semel, chairman and CEO of the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Yahoo!, previously served as chairman and co-CEO of Warner Bros. Lloyd Braun, the head of Yahoo! Media Group, earned his chops in the television industry, serving as co-chairman of ABC Entertainment Television Group before he moved to Yahoo!.
Referring to offices Yahoo! said it plans to open in Santa Monica, Braun told the Hollywood Reporter in January: "I believe we can really take advantage of that and leveraging Terry (Semel's) relationships, my relationships, and the new relationships we're going to make when we're down there every day."
Jim Moloshok, senior vice president of Yahoo! content acquisitions and a former Warner Bros. executive, had the initial discussions with Showtime and Doug Hirsch, general manager of Yahoo! entertainment, and implemented the "Fat Actress" simulcast on Yahoo! TV, a Yahoo! spokeswoman said.
Robert Greenblatt, president of entertainment at Showtime, told members of the press three weeks ago that something "big" was in the works with Yahoo!.