Yahoo brought out a star-studded line-up to tout a new programming slate, which includes shows about a pair of Hollywood starlets who abuse their personal assistant, a diminutive crime fighter and a former teen idol interviewing celebrities about their first sexual encounters.
Besides new comedies and lifestyle shows, Yahoo on Monday touted partnerships with established media companies, including Conde Nast Entertainment and CNBC, as well as new vehicles for advertisers.
Yahoo and the other major online distributors are participating in what's known as the Digital Content NewFront presentations this week in New York City. This marks the second time the Internet powerhouses have held such an event to highlight original video content and the related advertising opportunities to Madison Avenue.
Fashioned after the television-industry's annual UpFront event, digital media executives hope to coax major brands and media buyers to commit more of their advertising budgets to the platform. Last year, advertisers spent about $37 billion on all Internet and mobile advertising, which is half of what was spent on television. Online video only attracted $2.3 billion in advertising.
"Last year was about perception shift," said Erin McPherson, Yahoo vice president and head of video. "This year, our hopes would be that actual budgets start to move in the direction of where consumers are spending their time, which is online."
At the start of the NewFronts, the Interactive Advertising Bureau released a study that underscores the growth of digital video. It found that 45 million viewers a month watch professionally created online video. Younger adults, ages 18 to 34, are the most avid viewers, it found. And they're turning to a variety of screens -- their computers, Internet-connected TVs, smartphones and tablets -- to be entertained in their homes.
McPherson said Yahoo plans to expand its offerings of women's lifestyle shows and comedies this year. Among the new comedies due out in the fall are "Tiny Commando," an action-packed series created by Ed Helms that follows the exploits of a four-inch-tall private investigator who uses his fleet of miniature vehicles to fight crime. It stars Zachary Levi and Gillian Jacobs.
Another show, "Losing Your Virginity with John Stamos," features the actor interviewing celebrities about their first intimate encounters, in a show produced by Morgan Spurlock and Stamos. The series "We Need Help" stars Cheryl Hines and Rachael Harris as actresses who exploit their shared personal assistant.
Among the forthcoming lifestyle shows is "Cinema & Spice," in which Julianna Strickland and Natasha Feldman explore food and film while teaching viewers new cooking skills and offering new decorating ideas.
Yahoo said it will create a hub for wrestling through a new partnership with the WWE. Starting this summer, it will offer a 30-minute pre-show before each new "Monday Night Raw" program, original online content and access to WWE archives, with full matches, shows and highlights.
ABC News and Yahoo will extend their partnership with daily digital extensions of the broadcaster's top news franchises, "Nightline," "World News With Diane Sawyer" and "Good Morning America."
Yahoo Finance and CNBC plan to debut a third original co-production, "Talking Numbers," which will examine trading and seek to highlight the best investing opportunities.
A new deal with Conde Nast Entertainment will bring lifestyle content related to the publisher's well-known magazine titles and popular features.
"Part of our programming strategy is to take their talent and editorial expertise and leverage all of their resources, and combine it with our online reach, our personalization, to make sure the right content is getting to the right people," said McPherson.
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