Yahoo Goes Big With Bite-Size Web Shows

Women are the target of 8 new original online series

Yahoo may be an Internet company, but it’s sounding an awful lot like a TV network.

At its new New York office Tuesday morning, the company launched a full slate of bite-size original Web shows and a newly revamped video site, Yahoo Screen.

“Yahoo is the broadcast network of the digital age,” said Mickie Rosen, senior vice president of Yahoo Media Network. “And like any broadcast network, we have our own in-house production and studio capabilities.”

The eight new shows target women with Hollywood names like Arrested Development’s Judy Greer, Dancing With the Stars Niecy Nash, and Super-Size Me’s Morgan Spurlock. In mostly three- to five-minute segments that will be released weekly, the programs give viewers quick snapshots on topics such as health, cooking, and entertainment.

“What I love about it is it’s a quick way to get takeaway,” said Nash, who hosts a relationship show called “Let’s Talk About Love.” Upfront-style, Nash attended the Yahoo event, along with other talent, including former Top Chef contestant Fabio Viviani, who hosts a cooking show, and Greer, who hosts a healthy living show.

Yahoo Screen houses all of the company’s original videos, across verticals including finance, sports, and entertainment, as well as long- and short-form content from more than 70 partners including CBS, Discovery, ABC, and Turner Sports.

Rosen said the new content and video site build on the company’s leadership in video. Citing comScore, she said that 27 million unique users watched original Yahoo video in August, which eclipses the entire Hulu audience.

For Yahoo, which has looked in limbo since the ouster of CEO Carol Bartz last month, this isn’t the first time that pushing original content has been the big plan. In 2001, under then-CEO Terry Semel, the goal was to make the company a platform for original programming.

But the digital environment has changed considerably since then, Rosen said.

“What’s different now is multifold—consumer behavior, technology of delivery, and how cost-effective it is, advertiser receptivity to it . . . The entire market has really shifted and evolved,” she said. “And the other thing is we know how to make this work now. We know the kind of programming that works, we know the business models that work, we know the kind of agreements and deals that work. And making sure we do this in a highly profitable, high-margin way while delivering top-notch experiences.”