Yahoo’s Video Strategy Drives More Views, Ads, If Not Viewers
How’s Yahoo’s video push going? Well, let’s review.
Earlier this year, Yahoo made a splash when it laid out plans to invest in original video, including scripted sitcoms that could easily have found their way onto TV.
Then Yahoo hosted its NewFront last spring, arriving with no clips from these series, since none of them are scheduled to debut until next spring–a full year later.
But Yahoo did impress some buyers at the NewFront with a groundbreaking deal with the concert promoter Live Nation. That deal included plans for Yahoo Screen–the company’s fledgling Web video hub–to stream a live concert every day for 365 days, including a recent show featuring Richard Marx. Yahoo snagged Kellogg’s, Citi and Sprint as sponsors of that Live Nation initiative, dubbed Yahoo Live.
How’s Yahoo Live doing? It’s unclear. Yahoo has yet to release much in the way of audience numbers on the program. The company said a recent live concert did draw one million viewers–however, it won’t say which one. Taylor Swift is among the big names to have performed recently on Live.
Overall, Yahoo Screen’s audience climbed 5% over the past year to 15.6 million unique viewers in September, according to comScore, though views on Screen are up 72% percent during that period. So though Yahoo’s video library may not be attracting many more viewers to Screen, those that are arriving are watching a lot more video content, or so it seems.
However, those numbers require a major caveat. Yahoo Screen was built specifically with mobile and connected TV devices in mind, and comScore’s data includes only desktop viewing. Yahoo executives were unable to provide any mobile or connected TV audience numbers for Yahoo Screen.
When it comes to Yahoo Screen programming, let’s not forget–Yahoo did save the beloved, though audience-deprived sitcom “Community” from NBC’s cancellation of a sixth season. Still, the show is unlikely to premiere on Yahoo this fall, and in fact no premiere date has been set. And of course, Chief Executive Marissa Mayer made headlines in 2012 when she hired TV news veteran Katie Couric–but so far Ms. Couric’s impact has been tough to gauge.
Ad buyers are all over the map with regard to how they view Yahoo’s video strategy. Their comments range from very skeptical: “I’m waiting for them to get their act together” and”they are totally off my radar” to hopeful: “their investments are all smart moves” and “I’m optimistic.”
Overall, ad buyers say Yahoo doesn’t have much ad inventory to sell in its produced video content. So the company is focusing on selling scale, using licensed content such as “Saturday Night Live” clips and “Yahoo News With Katie Couric” to help bolster its video ad packages.
It will be a lot easier to draw conclusions down the road, when Yahoo finally debuts “Community,” and the two originals it shopped at the NewFront, including Paul Feig’s “Other Space” and the pro-basketball-themed comedy “Sin City Saints.” If those scripted series can draw TV-esque audiences, that will turn advertisers heads. That’s something that incoming ad sales chief Lisa Utzschneider will surely focus on. Read more here