Yahoo is grounding down on video tonight, with the announcement of several new programs that range from sitcoms to live competitions, and magazine-style talk shows.
Yahoo says it will be expanding its live content on Yahoo Screen, including the addition of a series called Ultimate DJ. The new program, produced by by Simon Cowell and other music industry notables, will feature a weekly competition aimed at uncovering the best electronic music DJ talent around the world.
In addition to Ultimate DJ, Yahoo says it is growing the number of live concerts it airs through relationships with both Live Nation and iHeartRadio. Yahoo Screen Live is also adding a live news program hosted by Katie Couric, as well as a live finance show.
The company has also reached a deal for a new original program called The Pursuit, building on its repertoire of exclusive content. The show involves a group of friends in their late 20s living in Manhattan (sound familiar?). The show is produced by Scott Stuberl, Dylan Clark, and Beth McCarthy, who have worked on their share of comedies in the past. Stuberl was a producer on The Break-up and Role Models, while McCarthy has worked on Saturday Night Live and the popular Modern Family.
Finally, Yahoo is building up a series of video programs within its digital magazines with notable hosts like model Naomi Campbell, actress Michelle Rodriguez, and the couple behind the blog Thug Kitchen. The new video series total 19 in all and feature everything from cooking to crafting to sports.
The rash of video programming shows that Yahoo is hoping to harness the consumer movement away from traditional television programming and towards digital-only platforms. If played correctly, Yahoo could become a vehicle for basic programming, the way that cable networks like ABC, NBC, and CBS have for years. So far, companies like Netflix and Amazon have focused on films and high-quality series — think Orange is the New Black or Transparent. That doesn’t seem to be Yahoo’s angle.
Rather, Yahoo is focusing more on content along the lines of talk shows, reality tv, sitcoms, and news programs — an area that only cable channels are really tackling. YouTube is perhaps the closest competition, but YouTube is more focused on talent grown on its own platform, as opposed to existing talent looking for a digital home.
With cord-cutters still remaining relatively low in numbers, Yahoo’s strategy may not seem compelling. But as more people make the move to digital, Yahoo will have the opportunity to present itself as a very hospitable platform for traditional cable programming.
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