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Comedy Central to push for revenue growth

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MUMBAI: Comedy Central has roped in 30 advertisers after three months of launch and is looking at developing other revenue streams including on-ground events and licensing & merchandising.

The on-ground events will kick off from the second half of the year. "Comedy goes beyond standup act routines. The events will be a combination of small scale and larger properties. We are exploring ideas. The challenge lies in their execution and doing them in a way that makes economic sense," says Viacom18 Media senior VP, GM English entertainment Ferzad Palia.

On the L&M front, Comedy Central will hope to capitalise from MTV and Nick, its two sister channels that have run longer in the Indian market. The channel will launch merchandise products for its show South Park in a couple of months.

Says Palia, "This will cover a range of products. Because of Comedy Central‘s TG (15-34 years), avenues for purchase may be different from what has been seen. Depending on how this works we could launch merchandise that pushes the Comedy Central brand."

Comedy Central‘s first advertiser was Volkswagen. Now it has a roster of advertisers that include Jaguar, Nivea, Idea and Vodafone. "We are looking at doing innovations on TV and also outside it. This could take the shape of advertiser funded properties," says Palia.

The focus in the first year will be to get the sales strategy right. "There have been times when we have refused business as we felt that we were not getting a fair rate. Advertisers are getting more receptive towards this genre," avers Palia.

Content costs are a challenge with costs doubling in the last 18 months. "80 per cent of our content is acquired. 60 per cent of our content is old which is fine as comedy is evergreen. The balance 40 per cent is new content. We have managed to create a new genre," says Palia.

Comedy Central is exploring the possibility of starting local productions. "The challenge though will be to find content that lives up to the international standards," concludes Palia.

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