Yahoo Debuts Entertainment, New Shows

Dance-B.

Marking its first collaboration with Ben Silverman's Electus entertainment studio, Yahoo Wednesday launched a new video series intended to capitalize on the popularity of TV shows like "Dancing with the Stars" and dance videos online.

"Ready. Set. Dance!" will present a dance competition over 12 weekly episodes on Yahoo Music with State Farm serving as the sole sponsor. Each three- to-five-minute show will feature a pair of contestants, selected through an audition process, who must break into their dance routines on the spot whenever they get a phone call from host Adrienne Bailon.

Online voters will decide which of the two dance contestants take home the $10,000 prize. In the premiere episode, graying, chunky "Will" had to get up and dance on the median just above 23rd St. in New York, while young "Marissa" showed off her moves to a Times Square crowd.

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State Farm branding wraps around the "Ready. Set. Dance!" site and a prominent banner ad allows viewers to find their local agent. Bailon also introduces each episode with a brief "Presented by State Farm" message. "Understanding the popularity of dance contests among our target audience, State Farm sees this as an innovative opportunity to connect with young adults in the online space in a fun, engaging way," said Tim Van Hoof, advertising director at State Farm, in a statement.

The new show is among the latest in a line of short-form branded series that Yahoo has rolled out in recent years, including "This Week In Music," backed by Target; "The 411 on omg," sponsored by Starburst; and "Daytime in No Time." And "Ready. Set. Dance!" is the second Yahoo video series sponsored by State Farm after backing "Spotlight to Nightlight" last year, which drew 7.2 million streams.

It's the first program, however, resulting from a partnership earlier this year between Yahoo and Electus, the digital studio started by ex-NBC Entertainment co-chair Silverman and IAC/InterActiveCorp. Before joining NBC in 2007, Silverman's Reveille production company was responsible for producing hits such as "The Biggest Loser," "Ugly Betty" and "The Office." Silverman was also known for embracing branded content.

Jimmy Pitaro, Yahoo's vice president of media, who was quoted in the release about "Ready. Set. Dance!" was reported Tuesday as planning to leave the company soon. Yahoo yesterday, declined to comment on the report and Pitaro, appearing at a Yahoo event in New York for Advertising Week, did likewise.

Separately, Yahoo Wednesday also debuted "Fast Fix," a daily video update on political news featuring Washington Post political reporter and "The Fix" columnist Chris Cillizza.

The new show will be executive produced by Erik Rydholm, who created Emmy-winning ESPN shows "Around the Horn" and "Pardon the Interruption." "Fast Fix" will appear both within Yahoo News and on PostPolitics.com, the Washington Post's hub for political coverage. The one-minute "Fix" installments won't have a dedicated sponsor but will typically carry a 15-second pre-roll spot.

Clarification: Shell is the launch sponsor of the "Fast Fix" on PostPolitics.com but not on Yahoo.

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