Yahoo launches on-demand TV offering, aims to cash in on video ad inventory

It’s no secret that the consumption of online video content has ballooned over the last year. Facebook, YouTube, Lightbox, Neon, Quickflix, 3Now, TVNZ OnDemand and Netflix (the list goes on) are all driving this consumption by providing Kiwis with instant access to more content than Kiwis will ever be able to consume in their average 81.16 years on the planet. And now, Yahoo is also entering this already cluttered space by launching Yahoo TV, a new hub dedicated to on-demand content.

“We all know that online video is growing and audiences are getting very comfortable with watching premium content, as in films and television shows online,” says Cora Spear, the head Of TV and global content at Yahoo7.

“It’s certainly part of the broader Yahoo global strategy around mobile, video and social. So, we’ve had some fantastic success in Australia with our premium online video content. And we now have the opportunity to go direct to the consumer with exclusive content that’s come from Yahoo Originals.”

Yahoo is kicking off its new offering by making ten shows available to Kiwi audiences.

The most notable shows on the list would be the original productions, Sin City Saints and Other Space, which the media company produced independently.

Much like Netflix, Yahoo is trying its hand at not only distributing content but also commissioning its production, and Spear says that the original shows have done well abroad. 

“We are going to be releasing the shows in their entirety, so people have the choice to watch when they want, where they want and for long as they want and be able to share that as well,” Spear says.

“So, it’s definitely something that differentiates us from a standard social network or a traditional TV broadcaster. We can bring it all together, and that’s the opportunity that Yahoo globally and locally see.”

She also distinguishes Yahoo’s TV offering from the digital players in the market.

“With the likes of Facebook and Youtube, they’ve got the platforms and distribution, but everyone needs the great content. And that’s the difference that we have. We’ve got long-form, true TV shows as well as the shortform content.”

After the United States and Australia, New Zealand is the third market to gain access to Yahoo TV.

Also interesting is the fact that Yahoo TV launch portfolio will include Home & Away and My Kitchen Rules Australia, both of which are currently screening on TVNZ.

“To be clear, that’s catch-up content,” says Spear. “So shows like Home & Away and My Kitchen Rules will simply be a catch-up service after they air on television. We’re very respectful of the TV channels and the broadcasters that have the first run of that content.”

And while this might be the case, Yahoo TV does provide competition for TVNZ Ondemand, which also makes these shows available as catch-up content after the television broadcast.

The content will is being hosted on new section of the Yahoo website, and Yahoo general manager of sales Louis Niven says that it will be monetised through an ad-funded model.

“We’ll be running pre- and mid-break ads if it’s longform content. And if it’s short content, we’ll have a pre-roll,” Niven says.

He says that the new content is welcome addition for the local Yahoo sales team, which has until now not had enough video inventory to meet the demand.

“Essentially, over the last two years, we’ve been selling out. We simply haven’t had enough supply. So, the demand is already there. The big issue is lack of supply. We’ve seen a 38 percent uplift in mobile consumption of video, so it’s really about getting access to the programming.”

Now that Yahoo has the additional inventory available, it’s a case of selling it to the local market. And the success of this will be determined by the demand local audiences have for the content.

Looking at the list of programmes, the absence of local content stands out. And at a time when the other on-demand players have sprinkled at least some local shows among throughout their predominantly international portfolios, it will be interesting to see if this impacts the performance of Yahoo TV.

Asked whether Yahoo had any plans to commission and introduce local programming, Spear admitted she was open to the idea.

“I’d love to be able to say to you that I’m commissioning two shows tomorrow,” she says. “It’s definitely part of the plan in the future to be producing our own local-flavoured content across both Australia and New Zealand.”

In the meantime, Kiwis have access to yet another on-demand platform to choose from.  

The line-up of Yahoo TV programmes for launch includes:

  • Sin City Saints (A Yahoo Original series from two-time Emmy nominated director, Bryan Gordon)
  • Other Space (A Yahoo Original series from Bridesmaid director, Paul Feig)
  • Home & Away
  • My Kitchen Rules Australia
  • The Great Food Truck Race
  • Cutthroat Kitchen
  • All on the Line with Joe Zee
  • Life with La Toya
  • Tori and Dean: sTORIbook Weddings
  • Abby and Brittany

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