Comedy Central sees potential in localised content

MUMBAI: English GECs for a long time have been intending to telecast shows that are locally produced and involve local talent.  One such GEC from the Viacom18 cluster, Comedy Central, has finally decided to take the plunge.

Two new local properties are going to soon be seen on the channel- The Other Week That Wasn’t and The Living Room.  The former is a spinoff of its hit series on CNN-IBN The Week That Wasn’t. Speaking about two new properties, Viacom18 executive vice president and business head English entertainment Ferzad Palia says, “We wanted to localise in every market as it is important for us to have local connect with our audiences. We earlier experimented with video spoofs on journalists like Arnab Goswami and Rajdeep Sardesai which gave us a lot of positive feedback from our audiences.  This is just the beginning of getting on board more localised content as we have important plans for India.”

When quizzed what these plans were, Palia provides a three pronged strategy that the channel will follow for the next year, “First, our focus will be to crack some more potential local talent. Secondly, we want to extend our brand beyond television through various tie ups and on ground events and thirdly we will be bringing some of the best international shows and be disruptive with the formats.”

The Other Week That Wasn’t will be hosted by funnyman Cyrus Broacha along with Kunal Vijaykar and Kaneez and will revolve over fashion, entertainment and sports. The weekly show will air every Sunday starting 16 November at 8 pm on the channel and is presented by Micromax. Palia dismisses rumours that The Week That Wasn’t will discontinue on CNN-IBN.  “The Week That Wasn’t will continue to air on CNN-IBN whereas this show has the same cast but the content will be different,” he adds. CNN-IBN and Comedy Central are both part of the Network18 Group.

Comedy Central’s other property The Living Room centres on Kenneth Sebastian, a next door stand-up comedian from Bengaluru and his friends. These friends include the hilarious Kanan Gill, Kaneez, Abish Matthew, Naveen Richards, etc. The guy from the silicon valley of India has been presenting since the age of 19, and has over a hundred shows up his sleeve. The show that went through several alterations before receiving the final stamp will not have any script, retakes and will be 100 per cent improvised says the channel.  

“We started in 2012 with shows like Saturday Night Live, Seinfeld, That 70’s Show, South Park and have now progressed to acquire fresher and bigger content like The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and the Graham Norton Show. The Tonight Show is being telecast 24 hours from its original US telecast,” Palia informs. The Graham Norton Show will begin from 29 November on weekends at 9 pm.

The channel for the first time introduced an animation block with Sponge Bob and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in late October during the festive season because it wanted to cater to a different set of audiences- youth who loved animation. Additionally shows like Billy On The Street, Psych (season one to four), Penn and Teller Fool Us were telecast.

For the two new shows promotions are being run on air across the channels networks and will be promoted on the digital medium. Comedy Central currently has 25,99,439 followers on Facebook and 3 million followers on Twitter.

The channel and its on ground events have seen advertising interest from brand categories right from diamonds, to chewing gum to apparels, automobiles and telcos. “Today humour is the fastest growing genre in the world and every category of brands is seeing monetisation opportunities, be it on digital, television or on ground events. Brands also want to go beyond television and therefore integration through tie ups and events offer that opportunity. Advertisers see more value as we offer differentiated solutions,” says Palia.

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