How Yahoo! is still around at this point is something of a minor mystery. Ever since Google took over the search world, it’s essentially been copying everything tech leaders do, because innovation is apparently for chumps. Thus it’s not terribly surprising to discover that Yahoo! is imitating Netflix and creating its own line of exclusive TV shows.
Essentially, now that Netflix has shown that people will actually show up in droves to your exclusive digital content if you make it worth watching, everybody’s on the train. Amazon, of course, has been trying to make series stick for a little while now, but even their “hits” don’t exactly come together: Betas is well-regarded, but Amazon isn’t ordering a second season.
Yahoo! doing what everyone else is doing is hardly a surprise. But if you’re a bit skeptical that Yahoo! can go from search engine to must-see TV, well, the New York Times agrees with you:
Yahoo is especially unplugged from that world. In her move to differentiate on quality, [Yahoo! CEO Marissa] Mayer has looked at more than 100 projects and is leaning hard on Kathy Savitt, Yahoo’s chief marketing officer, according to The Journal. But neither has much significant history in the entertainment business, and Mickie Rosen and Erin McPherson, two executives familiar with the media business, recently left the company.
This is not the first time that Yahoo has made a big push into Hollywood — in 2004, it had a well-covered foray into major productions with major stars, an effort that ended in naught.
It’s fairly true that Hollywood and Silicon Valley team-ups usually end in a glittery train wreck, but for Yahoo! in particular, this seems like a bad idea. For one thing, name the last time you were on a Yahoo! site for anything other than fantasy sports; I’ve had a email address with the company for more than a decade and it’s the only time I interact with it. Having some dancing twits in a banner above my email is not enticing.
Secondly, one of the problems with online shows is there’s more money than sense. House of Cards works because it’s almost ridiculously splashy; the first season alone cost $100 million and Netflix spends more on its original programming than most TV networks.
Yahoo! is also going up against not just Netflix and Amazon, but also Microsoft and Sony, not to mention the fact that networks like AMC, HBO, and FX are turning out high quality series on a regular basis. So essentially, Yahoo! has more competition than it probably realizes.