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Yahoo! Set to Crush YouTube

Yes, Yahoo!'s doing, at least in structure, standard fare original programming. But that's not the exciting part. While I'm certain Yahoo! takes the foray into Netflix/Amazon.com (AMZN)/Hulu-like originals seriously, I suspect it's in this game simply because it can afford to be and everybody else is. It's a perception thing -- How can you be serious about online video if you're not doing originals?

But Marissa Mayer's not dumb. She's knows she needs differentiators. And she just snagged the differentiator to end all differentiators -- the deal to stream one Live Nation (LYV) concert per day for 365 days a year starting this summer. It appears these shows will be ad-supported. And that makes sense. It would be difficult to sell subscriptions given the diversity we should expect from the shows. In other words, you're not buying a subscription to a live concert streaming package if the genres are all over the map.

However, as big as this deal is, I bet it's a test case, meaning if music fans receive it well, Yahoo! takes it to the next level.

The next level might (and absolutely should) look something like my rough outline of how a player such as Yahoo! could design subscription-based live concert streaming. It's nothing short of prolific. And that's before considering the advertising possibilities.

I hope and expect that, with the Live Nation deal, we will see Yahoo! treat live concert streaming like a big-ticket item with advertisers. Put this automated, programmatic advertising trash in the background and focus on signing up huge sponsors for multi-platform opportunities across Yahoo! and Live Nation properties.

So, if you're Reebok and you sponsor a handful of shows, you get creative exposure across all Yahoo! and Live Nation properties and platforms. We're talking everything from in event at the event and online to point-of-sale and promotional stuff on Yahoo.com, Ticketmaster and elsewhere. That's a surface scratch, but it's the type of opportunity others, particularly Netflix, Amazon and other online video players, either do not have or refuse to leverage.

If you're Netflix, you have about zero clout to sign advertisers for high-dollar deals in association with, say, "House of Cards." That's because that show isn't any more attractive -- and probably less -- than the other television advertisers are already paying to be a part of. But that's not the case with live concerts. They're unique events online. And Yahoo! should be able to sell the snot out of them in unprecedented fashion. Because the events are not only unprecedented; they're incredibly attractive and locked and loaded with passionate and loyal audiences.

Marissa Mayer's set to crush YouTube as her video plan emerges because, unlike Google, Yahoo! has a coherent strategy and thoughtfully curated lineup. Go check out Yahoo! Screen. While it might have as much content -- at the moment -- as the other guys the interface blows everything that came before it (including Netflix and YouTube) away.

But, more importantly, with live concert streaming, Mayer has something YouTube doesn't have simply because Google has yet to aggressively move on that turf. Google has been happy letting YouTube float as an unorganized hodgepodge of music videos -- like the modern day version of 1980s MTV. That's great and all, but it's low budget type stuff that allows for little more than clicks on ads that look a lot like spam. Marissa Mayer's not slumming it like that with Yahoo! Screen.

Don't believe me. It's all good. Watch it come together just like we are witnessing Mayer does the right (and dynamic) thing by seizing the live concert streaming opportunity everybody outside of a handful of startups misguidedly left on the table.

--Written by Rocco Pendola in Santa Monica, Calif.

Rocco Pendola is a full-time columnist for TheStreet. He lives in Santa Monica. Disclosure: TheStreet's editorial policy prohibits staff editors, reporters and analysts from holding positions in any individual stocks.
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