Yahoo teams with ABC News for online news alliance

ABC News President Ben Sherwood and Yahoo EVP Ross Levinsohn discuss their new partnership.

Yahoo (s yhoo) and ABC (s dis) have struck a partnership that combines ABC News’ content and staff with the reach of Yahoo News for a total potential viewership of 100 million users. The alliance will include the debut of on Yahoo, new online video programming including a series of live interviews with George Stephanopoulos, and new channels for interaction before and after TV broadcasts.

The partnership will feature original, digital-first content, starting with Stephanopoulos’ interview with President Obama live on Monday. Yahoo’s Executive VP Ross Levinsohn said the alliance builds off an existing relationship with ABC News, which already distributes video and content through Yahoo, including recent coverage of the 9/11 anniversary and the royal wedding.

He said that while Yahoo already has 25 million users who visit Yahoo News daily, much of the content is aggregated from hundreds of sites with a thin layer of original programming. Levinsohn said the ABC News partnership will highlight Yahoo’s increasing move toward value-added content:

We’re focused on premium content. There is unlimited content around the world, there are millions of sites. We’ve set our focus on premium. We believe that the value that is created around premium content is something that can’t be replicated on any site anywhere in the world.

Levinsohn said he expects advertisers will respond favorably to the new ad spaces that will appear on the new content. He said Yahoo will look to ensure a smooth launch of the ABC News partnership first before replicating it across other verticals such as finance or sports.

Ben Sherwood, the president of ABC News, said the deal is a game changer that repositions the two organizations in the shifting landscape for news and information. He said the ABC News talent will collaborate on original content that leverages their interests.

“The whole purpose of this relationship is to create original content which is tailor made for where people are getting their online information, brought to you by the team of ABC News,” Sherwood said.

Diane Sawyer, the anchor for World News Tonight, said she was excited about the opportunities the deal provides to channel some of the reporting that doesn’t show up on ABC News. Christiane Amanpour talked of producing a series that taps into international events that concern viewers in the U.S. Yahoo staff will work alongside ABC News in New York, Washington, D.C., and California to produce the original content. The content will be designed primarily for desktop access, but it will be packaged for mobile using Yahoo’s Livestand platform.

It makes a lot of sense for the two teams to come together. ABC News has a great reputation, but it is finding it tough to ensure distribution of its content to a wide audience and be fast and flexible in the online real-time web. Yahoo is looking to boost its advertising efforts, and it understands that high-quality video is a key way to attract top advertisers. It also seems to suggest that we should expect more combinations to come as news organization look to pool their resources and audiences to best leverage their investments.

But announcing a partnership and actually producing a lot of quality online content are two different things. Despite the optimism in comments by Sawyer and other ABC talent, it’s hard to spend time on new efforts like this when your current responsibilities don’t go away. We’ll see what this eventually looks like, but it still seems like a pretty smart move by both organizations.