Yahoo! “lost” $42 million investing in Original Series such as Community, Other Space, Sin City Saints

Yahoo!’s chief executives told investors and media Tuesday on a conference call that their $42 million investment on original comedy series to build up Yahoo! Screen did not yield much of any financial return.

Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer had made a big play for Yahoo! Screen in 2013 by negotiating a deal with NBC and Lorne Michaels to make it the exclusive home for old Saturday Night Live clips.

Since then, Yahoo! revived Community from NBC extinction for their fans’ prophesied sixth season, and also ordered seasons for original comedies Other Space (from Paul Feig) and Sin City Saints.

But Yahoo! CFO Ken Goldman told stockholders that the company had taken a $42 million write-down in its third-quarter earnings, and placed the blame squarely at the feet of Yahoo’s Originals. Goldman said the company couldn’t figure out how to make money back from producing the series.

“We’re not saying we’re not going to do these at all in the future, but what we are saying is, in three cases at least, it didn’t work the way we had hoped it would work,” Goldman said.

You can see the detailed third-quarter 2015 revenue report for Yahoo! here.

Mayer, for her part, said “we ultimately need to work to improve our relevance to end users and how many times they come to us. So we think it’s important going into 2016 to get very focused.”

Community creator Dan Harmon lamented the revelation today.

Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

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