Yahoo is close to ordering four series of original programming, designed to rival the kind of shows seen on cable-TV networks such as HBO and streaming services such as Netflix, The Wall Street Journal reports. The shows would be half-hour comedies, created by writers and directors with TV experience. Seasons would comprise of 10 episodes, with each episode's budget reportedly ranging from $700,000 to a few million dollars.
"[Yahoo is] looking at the same type of shows that Netflix and Amazon are eyeing," a source told The Wall Street Journal. Marissa Mayer, the company's CEO, has yet to secure any deals, but is reportedly planning to demonstrate Yahoo's ability to produce top-tier programming to advertisers at an event in late April. Mayer has focused the company's attentions on video content since she took Yahoo's top job in July 2012. Last year she signed a a deal to stream Saturday Night Live's 38-year back catalog and is reportedly aiming to lure YouTube's biggest stars to Yahoo's stable with the promise of more money.
Yahoo is looking at the same type of shows as Netflix and Amazon
If deals are finalized for the four new shows, they would likely be streamed on Yahoo's streaming service, Yahoo Screen. While users can watch Yahoo's content through an iOS app or on their browser, Yahoo Screen is currently far from the omnipresent service offered by competitors such as Amazon and Netflix, who have apps on gaming consoles, tablets, phones, TVs, and other devices.
While the episode budgets being discussed suggest that Yahoo is ready to compete with other high-quality TV content producers, without a solution that means viewers can watch new shows in their living rooms, it may be tough for the company to cast its half-hour programming as a true alternative to traditional TV programming — no matter how much they spend.