SANTA MONICA, Calif. - Think of the most popular brands in celebrity news, and you'll probably come up with a small list that includes Entertainment Tonight, US Weekly and People.
Consider the most successful celebrity news destinations online, and something else jumps to the top. For more than a year, one site has attracted more eyeballs than any other in the realm of celebrity gossip: Yahoo Inc.'s omg.
With a dedicated staff of just five people, and more than a dozen shared with other Yahoo sites, the company has settled on a formula that Yahoo Media Group head Jimmy Pitaro calls "highly profitable," though Yahoo won't reveal details.
The fact that Yahoo's entertainment site outdraws rivals that aim to break news - such as TMZ.com, which broke the news of Michael Jackson's death - helps illustrate that success online doesn't always mean being first and having exclusives.
It also marks a rare success for the struggling Internet portal, which has shed thousands of employees and shuttered several businesses, a process CEO Carol Bartz accelerated after being hired in January.
While Bartz said at a shareholders meeting in June that she felt that too many entertainment stories make Yahoo's front page, Pitaro said she's a solid supporter of the company's media properties in general.
Omg puts a light, positive spin on articles and other tidbits that mostly come from other news organizations such as "Access Hollywood" and the Associated Press. The vital placement of omg links and blurbs on Yahoo's home page gives it access to some 500 million unique visitors a month.
The strategy has vaulted the two-year-old site past People and TMZ, both units of Time Warner Inc., and other popular celebrity sites like PerezHilton.com. *