Maria Sansone – an ESPN contributor and former MTVU VJ who’s been a TV reporter since she was 11 – and The 9 team debuted their first episode on July 10, 2006. Produced by Yahoo! TV and sponsored by Pepsi, the site feels a little like a rich man’s Rocketboom, or at least a Rocketboom that spends more than $20/day. Early each weekday morning, the Manhattan-based team gathers clips and still photos from what they consider to be the top 9 internet sites and stories for that day and post their results in the form of 4-5 minute episodes hosted by Maria. In case they missed anything, they encourage viewers to submit sites to the “Pepsi 10th,” and then they showcase worthy submissions in their next episodes. The 9 caters to the 9-to-5 set by keeping the content “work-friendly” (read: un-offensive to the co-worker just peeking over your shoulder) and by posting in time for your morning sign-in at roughly 9AM.

You can’t expect a Yahoo! site to avoid pimping their own (at least 2 of the 9 each day link back to a Yahoo! related site), but they still manage to get a good array of interesting links in the mix. And since they don’t limit their offerings to video or vlog sites, they tend to showcase information that other directory sites tend to avoid – everything from the horrors of growing up (#5) and how to deal with them (#3) to things cute (#1) and cuddly (#1). When a website gets a mention on The 9, it is considered a “story” – Maria introduces it, shows clips or images, then wraps it up. It’s also more interactive than other websites of its ilk – viewers (referred to as “viewsers” or “9ers”) are asked to vote in a daily poll on their favorite content. The links to the featured sites are listed along the right side of the screen, in order, and individual episodes can be e-mailed to friends.

The 9 generally puts up some pretty decent content. I particularly enjoy the links to interactive sites, like JacksonPollock.org, but Mr. Belding doing karaoke (#7 here) is both a fantastic and disturbing find. And although the site focuses its content on the nine-to-five working public, it seems that younger viewers are tuning in as well. The poll for the episode from July 10th shows that only 2% of the viewers enjoyed the story about the website MenWhoLookLikeKennyRogers.com, implying that many of them might not even know who he is.

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