Yahoo!, ET Link Up for Site

Yahoo! and Paramount Domestic Television announced a deal on Monday for the portal to host the “Entertainment Tonight” Web site, as Yahoo! continues its push to attract Hollywood ad dollars during the Terry Semel era.

The deal calls for Yahoo! to host a Web site for celebrity news and gossip, feeding off the long-running ET television show. The two sides agreed to produce at least eight special event sites a year, to capitalize on buzz generated by the Emmy Awards or ET’s Fall TV Preview.

Neither financial details nor the length of the deal were disclosed.

The deal continues a trend since Yahoo! CEO Terry Semel took the reins of Yahoo! in April 2001. In less than two and a half years, Semel has transformed the company’s fortunes, helped by a keen understanding of the potential of paid search and a restructuring of the company’s ad sales organization to focus on attractive vertical industries. The first industry targeted by Semel, a former Warner Bros. executive, was Hollywood.

Thanks in part to demand from movie studios, Yahoo! has turned around its advertising unit. Last quarter, revenues at the company’s marketing services unit (including paid search) rose 42 percent from the same period a year earlier. With movies increasingly dependant on blockbuster opening weekends, Semel has crowed that Yahoo!’s homepage has become a “must-have” for opening a movie.

Both sides plan to stick to what they know: Yahoo! handles the ad sales for the new site, while ET handles the celebrity content.

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