As Yahoo did an end zone dance about the viewership numbers for its live stream of Sunday’s Bills vs. Jaguars NFL match-up yesterday, it was flagged with the public revelation that it has pulled the plug on plans for “The Pursuit,” a “Friends”-like sitcom from executive producer Scott Stuber. The news was first reported by Variety.
Earlier in the week, Yahoo announced that it was tapping SVP and global editor-in-chief Martha Nelson to lead its content business strategy, including video — a task previously handled by CMO Kathy Savitt, who departed last month to become president of digital at STX Entertainment. Nelson, who had been a senior editorial executive at Time Inc., joined Yahoo in August.
It doesn’t take an expert to see that Yahoo’s programming playbook is a mess. In a conference call discussing the company’s Q3 2015 earnings last week, Yahoo CFO Ken Goldman said it “incurred an asset impairment charge of $42 million related to a change of strategy on certain original long-form video content.”
Later in the call, Goldman clarified his statement, saying that the $42 million write-off was related to its comedies series.
“We couldn’t see our way to make money over time.” Goldman said. “I’m thinking of ‘Community,’ I’m thinking of ‘Sin City Saints,’ and so forth.” The “and so forth” presumably also includes the Paul Feig sci-fi comedy “Other Space.”
Joel McHale, the star “Community” (which was picked up by Yahoo after a five-season run on NBC), emceed Yahoo’s NewFront presentation in April, where it introduced 18 new series, including “Riding Shotgun with Michelle Rodriguez,” “Thug Kitchen,” “Superfan Live,” the Naomi Campbell-hosted talker “I Am Naomi,” and the Simon Cowell-executive produced EDM competition show “Ultimate DJ,” the latter of which is tentatively scheduled to premiere in the spring. The event also hyped “Yahoo News Live,” a weekly live news show hosted by Yahoo global news anchor Katie Couric, which premiered in July.