Yahoo! Wants to Find the Next 'House of Cards'

NEW YORK (TheStreet) - Yahoo! (YHOO) is hoping to find the next House of Cards by entering the competition for original programming. The Wall Street Journal reported over the weekend that Yahoo! is looking to acquire four Web series that would rival episodic shows developed by Netflix (NFLX) and premium cable channels.

Unlike Yahoo!'s foray into original content in the past, the shows would be "10-episode, half hour comedies with per-episode budgets ranging from $700,000 to a few million dollars," the Journal reported. The shows would be from writers or directors with experience in television, the article said.

While Yahoo! has dipped its toe into shorter-form Web content, producing a longer-form online hit series would be new territory for the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company.

The Journal said that Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer has reviewed more than 100 projects over the past few months, but nothing has been finalized as of yet. Mayer was hoping to have a deal in place in time for Yahoo!'s "NewFront" -- a TV ad sales presentation for marketers taking place later this month, the article said.

Yahoo! did not immediately return a request for comment from TheStreet.

The original series would be part of a broader strategic focus on video for the company. The Journal reported last month that Yahoo! was in "preliminary talks" to purchase online video service News Distribution Network. Yahoo! has also hired television news personality Katie Couric and former New York Times tech columnist David Pogue.

Binge-watching has become the new norm, and companies from Netflix to Amazon (AMZN) to Hulu and now Yahoo! are looking to capture TV viewers hungry for binge-worthy series. Last week, Amazon greenlighted six more original series, following their successful pilots as well as granting its popular original series Alpha House, a second season. The series will be available exclusively on Amazon Prime Instant Video as well as through its new set-top box, Amazon Fire TV.

Even Microsoft (MSFT) and Sony (SNE) are pushing into original content for their gaming audiences. According to a BloombergBusinessWeek article on Monday, Microsoft has greenlighted six original series for its new Xbox television, specifically "shows that can be combined with the interactive components to encourage users to engage across consoles, phones and tablets" following the hiring of former CBS executive Nancy Tellem. Microsoft plans to roll the series out globally in June and has more than a dozen projects in development, the article said.

Microsoft is "betting on the new studio to produce shows that will attract consumers to its Xbox game console, lure subscribers to its Xbox Live online service and eventually anchor a consumer home entertainment network that will tie the company's devices together," the article said.

-- Written by Laurie Kulikowski in New York.

Disclosure: TheStreet's editorial policy prohibits staff editors, reporters and analysts from holding positions in any individual stocks.

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