The expansion announced Monday during a presentation in New York makes Yahoo Inc. the latest technology company to mount a challenge to Netflix Inc., which runs the Internet's largest Internet video subscription service.
Microsoft Corp., Amazon.com Inc. and Hulu.com are among the other companies angling for a piece of the growing audience watching video piped over high-speed Internet connections instead of broadcast signals or cable services.
Yahoo's comedies are "Other Space," a show revolving around an alternate universe set in the 22nd century, and "Sin City Saints," a show about the front-office antics of a fictional basketball team. Both series will consist of eight half-hour episodes.
Financial terms of Yahoo's deals to license the new series weren't disclosed. "Other Space" is the brainchild of three-time Emmy nominee Paul Feig, who has previously worked on acclaimed TV series, "Freaks and Geeks" and "The Office." The creative forces behind "Sin City Saints" include former Emmy nominee Bryan Gordon, who also once worked on "The Office" as well as the HBO comedy "Curb Your Enthusiasm."
Yahoo doesn't plan to charge viewers to watch the series. Instead, the Sunnyvale, Calif., company hopes to make money from selling additional advertising.
"Our goal is to not only enable the future but also to help invent it," said Kathy Savitt, Yahoo's chief marketing officer.
Yahoo boasts one of the Web's largest audiences but the company has been struggling for years to come up with compelling products to reverse a long-running decline in ad sales. It made modest progress during the opening three months of the year as its net ad revenue rose 5 per cent from last year. CEO Marissa Mayer has repeatedly said it may take several more years before Yahoo's ad sales are keeping pace with the overall Internet market.
Besides the new comedies, Yahoo also announced a video service featuring live concerts and a digital travel magazine.