Yahoo Inc. is cutting bait on Yahoo Screen, its online video hub. The news, first reported by Variety, comes a couple months after the struggling internet company reported a nasty $42 million write-down on its original video content.
The URL "screen.yahoo.com" now redirects to Yahoo.com, though the section does still turn up in search results for “Yahoo Screen” on Yahoo. The venture lasted only two years, during which it played host to original series like “Community,” after the comedy was canceled by NBC but revived thanks to a fan-driven online campaign. Yahoo also acquired other video content, such as vintage clips from NBC's “Saturday Night Live."
“Community” and other original comedies like “Other Space” haven’t disappeared from the site — they’ve simply been moved to the Yahoo TV section — and the site will still produce video content like Katie Couric’s news segments.
The question on the mind of many “Community” fans is most likely about what this means for "Community.” Well, because there weren’t nearly as many of those fans as Yahoo had hoped for, the odds of more episodes of the series are slim to none. Yahoo, like Sony’s streaming outlet Crackle, relies on advertising revenue to support its originals, as opposed to subscription-based services like Netflix and Amazon Prime. The number of people who watch, therefore, is actually important.
Representatives for Yahoo and Sony, which produces “Community,” did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The write-down stands as a warning to the legions of outlets diving into the original programming business: Creating original series that people want to watch isn’t easy. Failures typically far outnumber successes and the key is managing expectations. The bar to clear for “success” online is lower than that of traditional TV, but, as that $42 million loss proves, the bar does still exist.
Shutting down Screen comes amidst continued executive churn at the company and still-swirling rumors of some kind of sale, despite protestations from CEO Melissa Mayer that Yahoo’s core business isn’t up for bid. Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam said at a conference in December that the company would fit Verizon’s interests.