Yahoo has a new face to rival CEO Marissa Mayer's starpower.
The portal has announced former "Today" host and "CBS Evening News" anchor Katie Couric as global anchor of Yahoo News. Ms. Couric will start her role leading Yahoo's news division early next year, according to a company blog post.
Ms. Couric's role will be both on air and behind the scenes. She will conduct regular interviews each month that will stream on Yahoo's properties, according to a person familiar with the matter. She will also help to develop Yahoo's news business.
Within the last month, Yahoo has poached three top members of The New York Times editorial staff. The company hired gadget reviewer David Pogue to create a new technology site, Megan Liberman to serve as editor in chief of Yahoo News and Matt Bai to write as the site's national political columnist. "I definitely think that Marissa Mayer is trying to create a content portal. She's going back to the days of when portals were successful and where people went [for content]," said B. Riley & Co. analyst Sameet Sinha.The hire marks Ms. Mayer's biggest coup yet in reestablishing Yahoo as top-tier media company. "They're clearly in the game. They've got their wallet open," said Colin Gillis, senior technology analyst and director of research at BGC Financial.
However none of Ms. Mayer's previous editorial hires are a household name on the level of Ms. Couric. That star power carries "a halo effect to come [to Yahoo] to see Katie Couric, probably do a couple search, watch a couple TV shows while there. It's a draw," said B. Riley & Co. analyst Sameet Sinha.
"If they bring in well known talent, they may be able to monetize it," Mr. Gillis said. "This [hire of Ms. Couric] is certainly the expense part of the equation. Will it drive revenue? We'll have to see how it plays out, if her star power drags her audience over to Yahoo."
Ms. Couric will continue hosting "Katie," her weekday talk show on ABC, through this season. The decision on whether to renew the program will be worked out over the next month, according to a person familiar with the matter. As part of her deal with ABC, Ms. Couric also produced more serious fare as an ABC News special correspondent. Her work for Yahoo will more closely resemble that content than "Katie."
Ms. Couric had conducted interviews for Yahoo previously as part of the partnership former Yahoo exec Ross Levinsohn struck in 2011 with ABC News. That deal led to the creation of online interview series "Newsmakers," in which Ms. Couric and other ABC News anchors like Diane Sawyer participated.
This isn't Ms. Couric's first foray online. While managing editor of CBS Evening News, she hosted the online news show @katiecouric. That program spanned interviews with former vice president Al Gore, Microsoft founder Bill Gates and Diane Keaton as well as segments on issues like Islam in America and women in Afghanistan.