Yahoo launches fall programming, TV-style


Yahoo is launching a new fall slate of shows—all original programming. Yahoo will begin premiering seven new Web series this week, all targeting female demos. That adds to some 24 original series already on the site.

The new shows are primarily an unscripted, lifestyle programming strategy. Judy Greer (“Arrested Development”) hosts “Reluctantly Healthy,” a series about cooking and exercising for those with little time. Niecy Nash (“Reno 911”) hosts a relationship show, “Let’s Talk About Love.” ”Ultimate Proposal,” with Cameron Mathison (“All My Children”), will use a team of experts to help men deliver a memorable marriage proposal.

An eighth show, not specifically targeting women, is also set to launch in November: “The Failure Club,” a show about people trying to overcome a fear, produced and hosted by documentary filmmaker Morgan Spurlock.

Yahoo is also planning further additions, with series focusing on other demographics and genres. With its own Los Angeles production house, it’s easy to see Yahoo as a budding video factory — only making 3-minute to 5-minute videos instead of 30- or 60-minute programs. Original and syndicated programming will be gathered in a new video site, Yahoo! Screen.

“I absolutely liken us to the fifth network or really the first digital network,” Erin McPherson, VP/head of original programming at Yahoo, told the AP. “We’re both a TV network and a studio. We’re creating our own original content — we do have an in-house Yahoo Studios team — and then we partner with folks like Ben Silverman’s Electus and Morgan Spurlock’s company and others.”

On Monday, Yahoo announced a partnership with ABC News for content.

Yahoo’s push into original programming is taking several pages from the broadcast book, like marketing shows’ start times and offering up finished programs to advertisers rather than have a series sponsored by one brand.

Yahoo’s success in original programming is partly due to the traffic it can generate from its homepage. Yahoo drew 177.5 million unique visitors in August, according to comScore, second to Google. Yahoo’s premiere series, the entertainment wrap-up show, “Omg! Now,” drew 8.3 million unique visitors last month. The company says its female video viewing audience reached 13 million during August, and it is already producing 200 new episodes per month for 20 shows – not counting the new ones.

Meanwhile AOL’s new video menu includes more than 15 new shows—some  targeting women, with titles such as “Little Women, Big Cars” and “Jocks and Jills”. Shows for men include “The Engadget Show”; and teens “CliffsNotes Films”.

And, according to WSJ, Google’s YouTube is finalizing deals with well-known personalities, such as skateboarder Tony Hawk: “…It seeks to become a next-generation cable provider that oversees dozens of free online “channels” with professional-grade shows, people familiar with the matter said…YouTube is putting up more than $100 million in cash advances to get some of the content produced, said the people. YouTube will recoup the funds from advertising revenue it sells against the content.”

RBR-TVBR observation: Google, Yahoo, and AOL are responding to rising consumer demand for short-form series and stronger advertiser interest. Online video is really starting to take a foothold in destination viewing. But while some might see a mass migration to online video a threat to traditional cable or broadcast networks, remember, it’s the content that counts, not the means it was delivered. Networks can stream their shows over their websites or an aggregator site and sell ads for that content just as easily as Yahoo or AOL. Some already are and some are even streaming as soon as they air on the television side.

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