Yahoo Launches New Shows Starring Ed Helms, John Stamos, WWE

Ed Helms John Stamos - H 2013
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Ed Helms John Stamos - H 2013

The web giant touts how it is "scaling" original video programming at a Digital NewFront.

Yahoo said Monday night in New York that it will be launching new comedy and lifestyle shows and a partnership with the WWE.

Yahoo is participating in Digital NewFronts, a series of upfront-style presentations this week by leading digital media companies. Hosted by the Interactive Advertising Bureau, the companies are attempting to lure ad buyers by hyping digital video programming. One of the stated goals of digital execs participating in the weeklong event is to capture more than $1 billion in ad sales. Yahoo said that it would be offering ad buyers opportunities across 18 categories.

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To this end, many of the companies are bringing out star power and stunts, a tradition held over from last year's initial efforts when AOL gave away a free car and YouTube trotted out a performance by Jay-Z. On Monday night, Yahoo's presentation was set to feature a streamed performance by The Lumineers.

The event marked an opportunity for Yahoo's new chief executive, Marissa Meyer, to get to know the advertising community.

"Tonight is about three things: innovation, premium content and advertising performance," said Meyer at the opening.

Yahoo is hoping that its new digital video lineup follows the path of Burning Love, a spoof of dating competition shows from executive co-producer Ben Stiller and the closest thing that Yahoo has to a breakout hit.

At the presentation, Yahoo announced Tiny Commando, created by The Office star Ed Helms, who will be teaming up with Chuck's Zachary Levi and Community's Gillian Jacobs to star in a series about a four-inch-tall private investigator. The series will feature all sorts of very tiny vehicle toys.

"I don't just play a nerd in the Hangover movies," said Helms. "I am a nerd. I grew up playing with radio-controlled cars. It allows me to get into the fantasy world."

Yahoo also announced Losing Your Virginity With John Stamos, featuring the actor interviewing celebrities about their first sexual experience (documentarian Morgan Spurlock produces), and We Need Help, where actresses Cheryl Hines and Rachael Harris share the same personal assistant.

"I was going to pitch it to a network," said Stamos, introducing his coming show.

Spurlock responded that "there was only one place that would put that on," before launching a "Yahoooo" yell.

"We're going to do re-enactments (of celebrity first sexual experiences) with puppets, Barbies, animation," said Stamos.

Yahoo also is saying good things to advertisers about two shows previously announced, including Jack Black's paranormal comedy, Ghost Ghirls as well as The Fuzz, a series that features puppets as police officers. The web giant also is premiering lifestyle shows Fashion Recipe (featuring stylist Brett Alan Nelson), Cinema & Spice (exploring the intersection between film and food) and Grill Girls (featuring chef Megan Mitchell).

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As previously announced, Yahoo also will be hosting all 38 seasons of Saturday Night Live starting Sept. 1, and at the NewFront on Monday, executives expressed high hopes for the partnership.

Yahoo also is getting into the ring with the WWE to create a similar hub for fans of the professional wrestling organization. Beginning this summer, Yahoo will host a Monday Night Raw pre-show, two weekly series of original WWE programming and an archive of full matches, shows, highlights and other events

Yahoo also is extending its partnership with ABC News, creating digital extensions of three shows -- Nightline, World News With Diane Sawyer and Good Morning America.

As one Yahoo executive put it, "We call this fall TV on steroids."

Yahoo gave its presentation in the wake of research from IAB, a trade group, that online video reaches 45 million U.S. viewers each month. Yahoo said that more than 1.2 billion videos are watched daily.