Ad-Hungry Yahoo Hopes to Strike Gold With an Original Comedy Series

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Former Staff Writer
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Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer sees online video as an imperative component of her fledgling company’s rehabilitation. In addition to reports that Yahoo is in the process of developing a competing service to Google-owned YouTube, the company is now allegedly entering the content production arena as well.

Like Netflix, Amazon and Hulu before it, Yahoo is ordering four original web series: 10-episode, half-hour comedies with multi-million dollar budgets. They have been helmed by veteran television writers and directors, reports The Wall Street Journal.

The hope is that video will help generate lucrative advertising revenues for Yahoo, which has lost considerable ad share to Google and Facebook in recent years, particularly in the mobile realm. Mayer notably fired Yahoo’s COO, Henrique de Castro -- her second-in-command and the company’s top ad executive -- earlier this year when he failed to gain traction with marketers.

Related: What Elon Musk Really Thinks of 'Silicon Valley'

The company might unveil its original series at its NewFront event on April 28 in New York -- the company’s version of the television upfronts, which are intended to entice advertisers with upcoming programming initiatives and star-studded partnerships.

According to The Journal, Mayer and her chief marketing officer, Kathy Savitt, have scoured more than 100 projects over the past several months.

Other evidence that Mayer is making a major push into video? In addition to building a complete SNL video archive on its video sharing property, Yahoo Screen, the company also signed deals with famed anchor Katie Couric and the tech columnist and correspondent David Pogue.

It is also reportedly weighing a $300 to $400 million acquisition of News Distribution Network (NDN), the fourth largest online video property in America.

Related: Netflix Co-Founder Not a Fan of 'Binge-Watching'

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