Battle TV: Yahoo and Microsoft jump into the original-series game

The tech giants each announced separate plans to launch original programming to rival Nextflix, Hulu and Amazon

Published April 7, 2014 5:40PM (EDT)

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer          (AP/Peter Kramer)
Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer (AP/Peter Kramer)

The original series field got a little more crowded today as both Yahoo and Microsoft released plans to create original streamable shows.

With the ability to stream TV shows and movies, the small screen has moved out of the living room and become mobile. Netflix took it one step further by adding "House of Cards," its Emmy-winning, original series, and several others including a reboot of "Arrested Development" and original drama "Orange Is the New Black." Amazon and Hulu also have original series such as "Alpha House" and "The Awesomes," and are introducing more.

The battle to lure binge-watchers continues with news that Yahoo is introducing four new shows, and Microsoft has tapped the likes of Seth Green, Michael Cera and Sarah Silverman to create six shows to be streamed via Xbox.

According to the Verge, Microsoft's plans include a TV series based on the video game "Halo," directed by Steven Spielberg; a reality TV series about street soccer called "Every Street United"; a sci-fi drama called "Humans"; and several others. Some of the shows, like "Every Street United," will have games and interactive features associated with the show that you unlock as you watch.

Sources told the Wall Street Journal that Yahoo plans to release four half-hour comedies, and the budget per episode ranged from $700,000 to $1 million. The Huffington Post is reporting that Yahoo's CEO, Marissa Mayer, has been angling toward a wider video presence. At the end of last year Mayer wooed Katie Couric away from ABC News

Television itself is already a complex and competitive field. There is the long-standing battle between cable and broadcast networks, along with other tech companies carving out space by creating devices such as Roku, Apple TV and Google Chromecast to bring the Internet to your television and allow for streaming on a larger screen. Companies like Aereo allow streaming of broadcast network TV from tiny antennae. Of course, shows -- both streaming and not -- won't just be fighting for viewers but for advertisers. Let the TV wars begin.

h/t Huffington Post, The Verge, Wall Street Journal

By Sarah Gray

Sarah Gray is an assistant editor at Salon, focusing on innovation. Follow @sarahhhgray or email

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