Yahoo Scores Rivals.com

Everyone wants to know who’s going to buy Yahoo , but at least for now, Yahoo’s doing the buying.

The Sunnyvale, Calif., company this week announced it bought Rivals.com, a network of over 150 sports sites dedicated to college and high school sports,
primarily football and basketball. Financial terms were not disclosed.

The news is a reminder that the company’s primary business remains online publishing, despite President Susan
Decker’s recent talk about new advertising platforms and advertising
exchanges.

In a statement, Yahoo said it values the demographic makeup of the
approximately 2 million fans each month visiting Rivals.com: young and smart — just the way advertisers like them.

Yahoo also said the local nature of college and high school sports
coverage will complement Yahoo’s current focus on national sports.
The added local coverage could help Yahoo gain better access to the
large local advertising market, still untapped by even the most
profitable Web properties.

In November 2006, Yahoo partnered with 150 daily U.S. newspaper sites toward the same end.

As recently as Monday’s conference call to announce the departure of former CEO Terry Semel, Decker shared a
vision of Yahoo as a more open platform for advertisers and publishers.

“We are confident that by aligning our interest with the interests of
the vast majority of the online advertising market, we will be very
well positioned for future success,” Decker said during the call.

Likewise, on Wall Street no single product is considered more
correlated to Yahoo’s prospects as a company than its six months-old
search marketing platform, code-named Panama.

When Panama is on track, so is Yahoo’s share price. When it’s not, investors bail.

But the Rivals.com acquisition makes it as clear as ever, despite
what are perhaps Google-tainted expectations, Yahoo’s primary
business is as an online publisher. Look no further than Yahoo Sports vice president and general manager James Pitaro for confirmation.

“Adding Rivals.com to Yahoo Sports creates tremendous opportunities
for us to connect our sports fans with the right sports content at
the right time,” Pitaro said in a statement.

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