Tech giants dive deeper into media, entertainment

(MoneyWatch) Yahoo (YHOO) has been quietly trying to recruit some of the country's top technology journalists. First, New York Times columnist David Pogue jumped ship. Then, over the weekend a headhunter unsuccessfully tried to recruit two reporters from high-profile tech blog AllThingsD.

The campaign is being driven by Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, according to Kara Swisher of AllThingsD. Katie Couric is also rumored to negotiating online interview show for the site.

Surprising? Not really. These days, many big tech players are looking to become, at least in part, major media companies.

Look at Google (GOOG). Not only has the company always based its growth and fame on making the world's information available to everyone -- which used to be called publishing -- but it also has now seen its first YouTube music video awards.

Netflix (NFLX) also has hit it big with online video series like "Orange Is the New Black" and "House of Cards." Also producing original video is Amazon (AMZN), which has its own book publishing arm.

Then there's Microsoft, with its Xbox franchise and video game development studio. The latest twist is the integration of Xbox and Windows 8.1 and a new type of game, such as "Adera," that uses a television model of distribution. There are different seasons of the game, each broken down into episodes, as you might expect in a TV series. Each episode, including the "season finale," ends in some kind of cliffhanger to draw users to the next part. People pay for the parts individually or buy an entire season.

Here are a few reasons that the tech industry is emulating Hollywood:

  • As software moves to the Internet "cloud" and hardware becomes ever cheaper, something must drive additional revenue in a maturing industry.

  • Media companies have wrestled with making money online, but for tech companies it needs to be supplemental, not a primary source of revenue.

  • The ubiquity of ad-supported models, which many tech companies have already used for years.

  • Recurring revenue on already produced entertainment can be highly lucrative, something that has often eluded tech giants, which have relied on creating new versions of old standbys.

Then again, maybe it's ultimately that the entertainment industry has better parties. Who doesn't like to be on the guest list for a red-carpet event?

  • Erik Sherman On Twitter»

    Erik Sherman is a widely published writer and editor who also does select ghosting and corporate work. The views expressed in this column belong to Sherman and do not represent the views of CBS Interactive. Follow him on Twitter at @ErikSherman or on Facebook.


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