April 7 - Yahoo is reportedly close to ordering four original Web series as part of CEO Marissa Mayer's drive to use video content to get users to view more ads. Fred Katayama reports.
Yahoo is stepping up its game to expand its online video business. The Wall Street Journal reports that Yahoo is close to ordering four Web series. And it's not cheap short stuff. It's considering 10-episode, half-hour comedies boasting budgets of up to several million dollars per episode. It's all part of CEO Marissa Mayer's big time bet on video to get users to watch more ads. Yahoo is taking on everyone from cable networks to YouTube to newbies like Netflix, Amazon and Hulu. To expand its programming, it has signed up news anchor Katie Couric and tech columnist David Pogue. Yahoo already ranks fifth in U.S. online video viewers, according to comScore data, and it could leapfrog to second place behind Google if it succeeds in buying NDN, a distributor of online video content. But when it comes to video ads viewed, Yahoo doesn't even crack the top ten. Yahoo's stock is down 15 percent this year, but it has more than doubled since Mayer took over two years ago. The Journal says Mayer hopes to showcase her online programming lineup before advertisers on April 28.