Yahoo Turns Off Its Video Service Yahoo Screen as Fewer People Tune in

U.S. Traffic to Yahoo Screen Fell by More Than a Quarter Over Two Years

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Yahoo Screen failed to grow its audience despite adding original shows like a new season of 'Community,' the sitcom formerly on NBC.
Yahoo Screen failed to grow its audience despite adding original shows like a new season of 'Community,' the sitcom formerly on NBC. Credit: Courtesyt NBC

Yahoo has shut down Yahoo Screen, the portal's digital video service whose U.S. traffic has declined 25% since February 2013. The service is no longer listed on Yahoo's home page, and people who try to navigate to it directly are redirected to the portal's home page.

Variety first reported news of the Yahoo Screen shutdown on Monday. A Yahoo spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Digital video has been a top priority for Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, but not so much for Yahoo's audience. Unique U.S. visitors to Yahoo Screen declined 28% between October 2013 and October 2015, according to ComScore.

Yahoo has tried to compete with Google's YouTube, Netflix and Hulu for digital video audiences' attentions by producing its own original shows like "Other Space," picking up the cancelled NBC sitcom "Community," hiring Katie Couric to anchor live news coverage and host interviews, and signing deals with media companies like BuzzFeed and Comedy Central. Yahoo Screen was also home to the first-ever free global livestream of an NFL game. That programming push, however, doesn't seem to have worked.

In October 2015 Yahoo devalued its video business by $42 million after its original programs failed to attract enough of an audience -- and ad dollars -- to merit the associated costs. "Certain of our original video content, we couldn't see our way to make money over time," CFO Ken Goldman said of the write-down during Yahoo's third-quarter earnings call.

Yahoo doesn't appear to be getting out of the digital video business altogether. According a Yahoo statement provided to Variety, the company is moving the videos that had been accessible on Screen to Yahoo's digital magazines. That shouldn't be too much of a surprise. Yahoo's video strategy in the past year has been oriented around making these category-specific digital magazines, which include Yahoo Food and Yahoo Style, more closely resemble TV networks than magazines. Fourteen of the 18 original video series that Yahoo announced at last year's NewFronts were slated to run on these digital magazines.

The shutdown of Yahoo Screen does end any hope Yahoo may have had of rivaling YouTube as a premier digital video service. In 2014 Yahoo had been pitching YouTube creators on posting videos to Yahoo in exchange for a more favorable revenue cut. Those talks fizzled after Yahoo ran into a series of setbacks during contract negotiations.

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