The 2014 Digital Content Newfronts got a strong start last night with Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer unveiling the company’s plan to enter into the original content arena currently dominated by Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon. Yahoo announced two original “television quality” series produced exclusively for Yahoo’s streaming video service Yahoo Screen.
Director Paul Feig (Freaks and Geeks, Bridesmaids, The Office) will direct “Other Space” a sci-fi series featuring a group of junior space explorers “trapped in an alternate dimension” Given Feig’s knack for creating cult comedy classics expect to see sci-fi tropes turned on their head.
Yahoo went all-in on comedy at Newfronts announcing a second series, Sin City Saints, helmed by Michael Tollin (All That, One Tree Hill, Smallville). The series will follow the on and off court hijinks of a fictional Las Vegas based NBA expansion team of dubious skill.
No release date was mentioned for either series but both are expected to be high budget signaling Yahoo’s willingness to sink series money into creating its own “House of Cards moment.” Also unmentioned was the rumor that Yahoo is courting Girls writer Lesley Arfin to develop a “mom-centric” comedy pilot. Similarly unmentioned was the rumor reported by several industry sources last month that Yahoo was developing its own video streaming service, a so called YouTube killer, and quietly attempting to poach YouTube talent with exclusive content deals.
Last night’s announcements, coupled with rumors of development deals in the works, seem to indicate that Yahoo is planning a comedy heavy slate of new programming. If the bulk of these programs succeed it would place the web giant in an enviable position as scripted comedy has been largely struggling on major networks while competitors like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon have had far more critical success with drama.