Yahoo Commissions 2 Original TV-Length Comedies

Yahoo is greenlighting two original, TV-length comedy series exclusive to its site and mobile apps, according to reports.

“Users expect online content to be as good as, if not better than, TV,” Mayer said at the company’s annual presentation to advertisers at the Lincoln Center. The new announcement also said that Yahoo plans on a new digital travel magazine and a partnership with Live Nation, a concert ticketing and promotion agency, to also broadcast concerts.

The new comedies will each be eight episodes and likely cost millions ($400,000 to $1 million per episode) but the push seems to have some research behind it, according to the New York Times. “We are in an era of unprecedented change in video,” Kathy Savitt, Yahoo’s chief marketing officer, told the Times. “We believe we can be the connective tissue between creators and viewers.”

One of the new series will be "Other Space" about a spaceship crew in an alternate universe created by Paul Feig, creator of TV cult-favorite  "Freaks and Geeks" and the film "Bridesmaids." The other will be "Sin City Saints" about a basketball team owned by a Silicon Valley billionaire.

The choices for programming are a little strange. While "Sin City Saints" hopes to cash in on Yahoo's thriving sports audience, it's not clear who "Other Space" is supposed to be courting. The other large segment on Yahoo is women -- a very large segment, which seem to thrive on beauty tips and information.

Yahoo has about 800 million monthly users, so it has the audience if it can lure them to watch. Its Yahoo Screen has been built up with a mobile app and more content, but there's been no evidence this will be a success for Yahoo. It has been a success for Google's YouTube, but it also has been streaming content for nine years. Still, perhaps the idea of Google having creative studios in Los Angeles seemed to galvanize Yahoo into crafting its own series.

Savitt said Yahoo saw ad dollar projections and decided to go forth with the project. It will also create two Katie Couric-anchored weekly shows and other lifestyle programs that are closely linked its digital magazines on travel, beauty, fashion and entertainment.  All of the content will be free, but there will be video ads and sponsorships.

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