Move over Hulu. There’s a new video hub in town. Yahoo just revamped its online video site, and the new one, called Yahoo Screen, looks a lot like Hulu.
Yahoo Screen has been re-vamped into an attractive and easy-to-use hub where you can watch any of the thousands of original and licensed video clips that used to be scattered across Yahoo’s content network. A group of human editors is hand-culling the material into distinct channels that include both snippets as well as complete television shows, like Modern Family and CSI, and shows from over 70 online sites, like Funny or Die and Break Media.
The move is part of Yahoo’s ongoing effort to make its content easier to consume and, ultimately, be recognized as the "premier digital media company."
"The objective [behind the revamp] is to make it easy for me to watch and be entertained," David Rice, Yahoo vice president of media properties, tells Fast Company.
Americans’ TV-watching habits are changing, and increasingly people are logging on to the Internet for the same kind of relaxation and entertainment they’ve traditionally turned to the boob tube for. Yahoo Screen positions the company to better capture those audiences.
The announcement follows news Monday that Yahoo will be partnering with ABC to feature more ABC content on the Yahoo network and to work jointly on producing original programming for Yahoo. Both announcements come during New York’s Advertising Week, when media companies jostle for attention from advertisers.
They also comes amidst turmoil at the top level of the company. Yahoo has yet to name a new CEO after unceremoniously firing Carol Bartz last month. There are rumors that private equity firms are considering making offers for the company. And on Friday, Jack Ma, chairman of Alibaba, in which Yahoo has a 40% stake, told a group of Stanford University students that he would be "very interested" in acquiring the company.
In addition to the revamped video hub, Yahoo announced that it would be adding eight new original programs, all aimed at women. The shows cover everything from relationships to food to entertainment, and they’re served up in short segments lasting about three minutes long, presumably to appeal YouTube-length attention spans.
The company is hoping the new hub will make advertising on Yahoo more attractive to brands. Speaking of the amount of original and licensed video that Yahoo has historically had on its network, Rice says, "when you it add up, we have the largest library of premium content." The problem, however, has been that "if you go out and ask consumers and advertisers who’s the leader in video, rarely would they say Yahoo," says Rice, who spent three years as an executive at online video site MetaCafe before returning to Yahoo.
Yahoo’s overall strategy has focused on combining editorial curation with personalization algorithms that serve up the kind of content individual users might be interested in and increase the amount the ultimately consume. Yahoo plans to use the same algorithms to enable advertisers to reach the specific demographics in their target audience.
"Advertisers are very interested in targeting," Rice says. "They want Yahoo to have more video content so we can target against it."
Yahoo Screen is currently only available on laptops and desktops. Rice says plans are in the works to bring it to mobile devices as well.
[Image: Flickr user *USB*]