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Yahoo!7 confirms it will ‘retire’ companion app Fango and integrate social functions into Plus7

FangoThe CEO of Yahoo!7 Ed Harrison has signalled the digital joint venture will move to “retire” its social media companion app Fango, Mumbrella can reveal.

From early next year the joint venture between Seven West Media and Yahoo!7 will seek to integrate its social media content into its main app Plus7 rather than the stand alone Fango property, which has struggled to gain regular daily repeat visits among TV audiences, despite gaining more than one million downloads.

“We acknowledge it is functionally better for social to sit within Plus7, and very early in the new year you will see the functionality that currently resides within Fango embedded within that app”, Harrison told Mumbrella. 

Asked if this meant they were dumping the well-promoted social app Fango Harrison responded: “I’d say the word is retire (Fango), I mean it will still be there. People will just start to find the social functionality in Plus7 and we will start to point them there.”

Fango was launched in November of 2011 and by mid 2012 had earned more than half a million downloads. But despite a decent number of downloads, driven by a strong promotional campaigns on Seven’s TV channels as well as exclusive content on the app, it failed to convince consumers to move over from existing platforms such as Twitter and Facebook.

One analysis on the social TV experience, done in 2012, showed that despite strong results on downloads of network apps Fango had only 500-600 active users in a day, whereas there might see 15,000 comments on Twitter in a single episode of The Voice.

Harrison told Mumbrella that the move was recognition of a shift in the market acknowledging it was better to have video streaming of programs and social media functionality in one app, a move which rival Nine’s Jump-in has already done.

“Stand alone apps in that area have had their day,” said Harrison. “Unifying those experiences is the way to go and we will be doing it very early next year.

“Three years (since the launch of Fango) is a very long time in digital. Three years ago people were thinking stand alone apps, but that’s not the way we are thinking now.

“The whole app world is moving to unify where you can. In the US they talk about the enormous tail of apps but very few are used and what that says to us is to combine those experiences into a single app environment.”

News of the move comes just days after Yahoo!7’s 50 per cent co-owner Seven West announced it has signed on with Foxtel’s movie streaming service Presto, with TV programming set to be added to the service from next year.

The Yahoo!7 boss, who has recently passed six months in the role, also spoke openly about the importance of the company’s Plus7 app, which has had 1.5m downloads, in growing its video ad inventory.

“Plus7 has been enormously successful across all our video. We are doing plus 9m streams in total (across all Yahoo!7’s online properties) which is very substantial. Five million of those are long form, but it is clearly the more valuable part and frankly we can’t get enough. There is that shortage so we are working very hard to generate supply in this area,” he said.

Harrison said as part of the digital publisher’s attempt to address the ongoing shortage of video ad inventory it was working on a number of strategies for 2015.

“We are making sure we are optimising all of the content flow out of Seven into Yahoo!7 and then there is the user experience,” he said. “There can be more social engagement in the app itself – functionality that allows that engagement and then a little further down the track personalisation driving recommendations.

“Building in really good recommendations that we think as a result we will get many more streams and more audience into Plus7.”

Seven’s Plus7 is the most downloaded TV viewing app followed Nine which has Jump-in and Ten’s Tenplay, with each claiming over one million users.

Nic Christensen 

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