Recode is reporting claims from several sources that Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer is has plans to launch a new video site, and may pilfer some of YouTube's biggest names to do so.
According to sources, Yahoo has already approached some of the most popular users on its would-be rival to offer "better economics" if they post their work exclusively on their site. It's not clear yet whether this would mean better guaranteed ad rates or maybe a consistent paycheck irrespective of how well their videos do. As many YouTube stars are independent and rely on Google's advertising model for their income, more money or more security (or both) could be tempting.
There's also indications that Mayer is promising heavy marketing to promote the work of these web-celebs, as a way to increase ad revenue and build a roster of recognisable faces to attract viewers. However, current reports give the impression that Yahoo's new site will probably not be an open-access video hosting platform in the same vein as the Google-owned YouTube. At least for now.
Since taking on the role of CEO back in 2012, Mayer has overseen some big steps to reclaim Yahoo's online relevance, including the purchase of popular microblogging site Tumblr for over a billion dollars last year. However, video still remains a weakness for the company and one that Mayer seems eager to bolster. Yahoo attempted (without success) to buy DailyMotion, which boasts 2.2 billion video views per month, and negotiated a deal to buy the back catalogue of clips from US sketch comedy show 'Saturday Night Live' to stream via Yahoo Screen.
The history of YouTube is peppered with success stories. Just last week it was announced that Disney had acquired Maker Studios - a network of online content creators founded by several popular YouTubers back in 2009 - for $500 million. YouTube's first poster child for Internet fame, Lucas Cruikshank, was approached by Nickelodeon to turn his web series about a hyperactive young boy named Fred (played by Cruikshank) into a film, which spawned two sequels and a television series.
Whilst some YouTubers find fame and fortune elsewhere, as a result of putting their work up, there's a growing troupe of video-makers who earn enough through the site's partner program to earn a lavish living. The most-subscribed YouTube channel at the moment is helmed by Maker Studios partner Felix Kjellberg, better known as PewDiePie, who usually earns well into the hundred of thousands per month from his gaming videos. Despite this, other creators have expressed concern at the decline of their advertising income, even when their channels have gained in popularity.
If Marissa Mayer wants to coax the big names on YouTube away, it may be as simple as giving them more guarantees of income than Google are willing (or able) to.