NewFronts: Yahoo Extends Live Nation Deal, Adds 14 Digital Series

THR Kathy Savitt - H 2015
Cody Pickens

THR Kathy Savitt - H 2015

New shows include 'I Am Naomi,' starring Naomi Campbell, and a live daily news series with global news anchor Katie Couric.

Yahoo revamped its video strategy ahead of the 2014 NewFronts; now the tech giant is back when a number of pickups that signify it is doubling down on that plan.

Key to the Yahoo content strategy is the deal it struck with Live Nation last year to broadcast one live concert a day for an entire year. Yahoo has renewed its deal with Live Nation and plans to bring back live concerts, this time focusing on music festivals such as Electric Daisy Carnival Las Vegas.

“A year ago we really reframed our video strategy,” says Yahoo content chief Kathy Savitt. “2015 is really about doubling down on that strategy.”

At a NewFront event Monday night at Lincoln Center that featured a performance from DJ Steve Aoki and jokes from Community star Joel McHale, Yahoo also announced competition series Ultimate DJ. From producers Simon Cowell, Ultra Records’ Patrick Moxey and Syco Entertainment’s Kelly Belldegrun, Ultimate DJ will pit EDM DJs against one another in a sort of “World Cup” of the electronic music world. Voting will take place via Yahoo-owned blogging platform Tumblr. The winner will receive a record contract with Ultra Music and Sony Music and the opportunity to headline a major EDM festival. Ultimate DJ will be co-produced by Syco Entertainment and Done and Dusted and executive produced by Ian Stewart and Hamish Hamilton.

“We literally sold the show in the room,” Cowell told the packed crowd at Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center.

Other live programming includes an iHeartRadio concert series, TV-centric Superfan Live and finance series Everybody’s Business.

Yahoo has also tapped global news anchor Katie Couric and the news team to bring daily series Yahoo News Live to screens. The show will feature news and finance anchor Bianna Golodryga, political columnist Matt Bai and chief investigative correspondent Michael Isikoff.

In addition to live programming, Yahoo is also adding several new series across its slate of 13 digital magazines. Among the 14 new shortform series, Yahoo has ordered I Am Naomi, starring model Naomi Campbell, and Riding Shotgun with Michelle Rodriguez, which will see the actress test some of the fastest cars in the world.

Other shows include food series Thug Kitchen, David Pogue’s YourTech and Yahoo Sports unscripted comedy Offensive Interference.

“What we’re hearing from the users of these magazines is that they’re consuming a lot of content and they want more video,” Savitt says. “Our digital magazines are going beyond editorial and photography to really become video channels on Yahoo Screen.”

All told, Yahoo announced 18 new original series, including half-hour comedy The Pursuit, which joins Yahoo’s small slate of scripted programming.