Yahoo Screen shuttered as possible restructuring of Web company looms

Yahoo officially shut down its online video unit, Yahoo Screen, ending an ambitious drive to vault into more direct competition with top OTT providers like Hulu by offering original content and live-streamed sports.

The company's online video assets will be shifted into its many digital magazines, according to Variety.

The search engine giant launched Yahoo Screen in 2013 to provide a central hub for its online video content, which included syndicated shows and movies as well as original content. The site was also an area for Yahoo to test various depths of the OTT waters -- it licensed clips of TV shows including Saturday Night Live, produced a new season of the cult favorite Community, and offered a channel that featured live-streamed concerts. Yahoo Screen also exclusively live-streamed a regular-season NFL game this year, pulling in a good percentage of international viewers and spurring speculation that the league would contract with Yahoo to stream more games in the next season.

Yahoo also ran a number of integrated campaigns through Yahoo Screen with advertisers like Honda, tying in online video ads with display ads across its sites.

However, the effort failed to prove as profitable as Yahoo's investors would have liked. Community, along with two other Web series, contributed to a $42 million writedown by the company last year. Yahoo Screen had invested about $100 million into its original content drive, The Wall Street Journal noted.

Viewership also failed to grow, with WSJ noting that unique video viewers per month stayed flat between February 2014 and September 2015 at 25 million, according to comScore's Media Metrix report.

Yahoo Screen is likely not at the top of Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer's priority list, in any case. The CEO is currently sparring with activist investors over the direction of the Web giant and where its efforts should be focused. Most recently, the board opted to cancel a planned spinoff of Yahoo's stake in two Asia-Pacific interests, Alibaba and Yahoo Japan, and instead look at selling off its core Internet search and display ad businesses.

For more:
- see this Variety article
- see this WSJ article

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