Simon Cowell’s Live-DJ Competition Show Dropped by Yahoo (Exclusive)

A live show from music-biz impresario Simon Cowell is no longer a go at Yahoo — the latest casualty of the Internet company’s shift away from TV-style original programming.

“Ultimate DJ,” from Cowell’s Syco Entertainment, was to have featured up-and-coming electronic dance music DJs competing against each other for a recording contract with Sony Music Entertainment. Cowell appeared on-stage at Yahoo’s 2015 NewFront event in New York in April with then-CMO Kathy Savitt to introduce the live series.

While Yahoo earlier this week had said “Ultimate DJ” was still in play and targeted to debut in early 2016, the company has since made the decision to not move forward on the project. A rep for Syco declined to comment.

Yahoo renewed its pact with Live Nation Entertainment in July 2015 to stream live concert video for another year, with a different performance featured every day. But the future of that pact might also be uncertain, given Yahoo’s retrenchment on other entertainment spending.

Last week, the company announced that it would take a $42 million write-down in the third quarter of 2015 related to three comedies it bowed this year: the sixth season of Dan Harmon’s “Community”; “Sin City Saints,” a comedy about a fictional Las Vegas pro basketball team; and Paul Feig’s sci-fi parody “Other Space.”

That signaled that Yahoo would be taking a hiatus from pricier, long-form scripted content, as CEO Marissa Mayer faces the urgent task of driving growth in core businesses. The company also confirmed that “The Pursuit,” a comedy about twentysomething Manhattanites, has been dropped; that show also had a splashy preview at the Yahoo NewFront.

It’s worth noting that other studios, networks or distributors could pick up the projects that Yahoo has abandoned.

Meanwhile, Yahoo execs have said it will continue to invest in short-form original content and other live programming such as news reports from Katie Couric.

This past Sunday, Yahoo streamed the first-ever NFL game for free to a global audience live from London. The partners touted the event as a success with 15.2 million viewers catching some portion of the Bills-Jaguars match-up but the average audience would have been far lower if it were calculated to be comparable to how U.S. TV broadcasts are reported.

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