Yahoo offers the largest selection of premium video content on the Web--not the user-generated kind that fill YouTube--and yet users have no idea.
So the company is rolling out a new service today, called Yahoo Screen, that puts all of the videos to which it has access in one spot. In the past, users looking for Yahoo's video content had to fish around various Yahoo sites to find programming.
"It's rather daunting finding something that's interesting for you to watch," said David Rice, Yahoo's vice president of media properties.
At Yahoo, shows such as Sports Minute are found on its sports sites while The Thread, its celebrity gossip program, was available only on its entertainment Web properties. So while the company has the most-viewed portfolio of original programming online, executives learned from focus groups that users had no idea.
Yahoo Screen offers a carousel-like selection of videos that users can scroll through to find the show they want. Each day, editors curate the content, picking the programming that they think users will most want to watch. Ultimately, Yahoo will personalize the content, filling much but not all of the carousel with programs aimed at specific tastes.
"There will be a mix of serendipity and personalization," Rice said, so that viewers can still stumble across programs that might not mesh exactly with their interests. The personalization feature will roll out over the next three to six months, Rice added.
Yahoo is also categorizing programs on the site, so users can quickly find, for example, all of its lifestyle shows in one spot, and all of its finance videos in another.
The Web giant has also expanded it library of third-party videos from such sources as Hulu, Fox News, The Onion, and Turner Sports, among others. Just yesterday, Yahoo announced a distribution deal with ABC News, which agreed to will distribute some of its content via Yahoo News.
Yahoo is also adding new original programming targeted at women to its Web lineup as well. Reluctantly Healthy, a program about staying fit while managing a busy lifestyle, stars Judy Greer, who played Kitty Sanchez on the Fox series "Arrested Development." Niecy Nash, who played Deputy Raineesha Williams on Comedy Central's "Reno 911!," hosts a weekly relationship show Let's Talk About Love.
And rather than selling the advertising on the Web programs before airing them, Yahoo is going sell ads for the shows on an ongoing basis, much like the way television advertising is done now. The goal is to create inventory for advertisers to buy.
"There's so much demand for video advertising," Rice said.