SAN FRANCISCO - Yahoo Inc.'s intensifying quest for more unique material is getting even more adventurous. The Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company has hired Richard Bangs, an author and film director, to create multimedia packages about exotic - and sometimes dangerous - expeditions on mountains, rivers and islands around the world.
Bangs' initial package will debut Monday and revolve around a climb up the Eiger, the Swiss peak featured in the Clint Eastwood movie, "The Eiger Sanction." The five-part serial follows the journey of John Harlin III, whose father died on the Eiger 40 years ago. Bangs hopes to present other adventures at least once a month.
The foray builds upon Yahoo's recent effort to display material that can't be found anywhere else on the Web.
"We are trying to define the next generation of Internet media," said Scott Moore, Yahoo's vice president of content.
The strategy is designed to set Yahoo apart from its biggest rivals - Google Inc., Microsoft Corp.'s MSN and Time Warner Inc.'s AOL - and expand its audience, already the largest on the Web.
In the United States, Yahoo attracted 99.3 million users during September, outdistancing MSN's 89.4 million users, Google's 79.4 million users and AOL's 72.5 million, according to Nielsen/NetRatings, a research firm.
All four of the major Web site are battling to attract more traffic to increase their advertising revenue.
Yahoo signaled its intent to develop more in-house material last year with the hiring of Lloyd Braun, a former ABC television executive, to run its media division.
After expanding Yahoo's media division in Southern California, Braun has been adding more bells and whistles to the Web site, hoping to strike a chord with the growing number of households that have high-speed Internet connections. Yahoo estimates 73 percent of its U.S. users visit its Web site over a high-speed connection.
Last month, Braun hired a veteran war correspondent, Kevin Sites, to provide dispatches from armed conflicts around the world. That move was closely followed by the addition of several financial columnists who will provide exclusive material to Yahoo.
Moore said Yahoo plans to expand into other areas of topical interest while also continuing to licensing material from dozens of other media outlets, including The Associated Press.
Yahoo's unique content "is like spice in the soup," Moore said.
Bangs' material about the climb up the Eiger will include written stories, as well as streamed audio and video, including footage that will be used in an IMAX film scheduled to be released in 2007. Another IMAX movie about the Nile River that Bangs co-directed is currently in theaters.