Comedy Central to launch on 23 January

Comedy Central to launch on 23 January


MUMBAI: Viacom18 will launch Comedy Central, the sixth channel from the stable, on 23 January.

With the launch of the channel, Viacom18 will mark its presence in another under-served genre ?English comedy. "Given its rich library of world class shows and distinct positioning, we are confident of Comedy Central establishing itself as one of the dominant players in the English entertainment space in Indian television," said Viacom18 group CEO Haresh Chawla.

The channel?s brand philosophy, developed internally, is ?Laugh It Off?. The TG is 15+ SEC, A,B Metros.

Comedy Central expects to be available in 20 million homes, across analogue and digital cable and DTH platforms. On DTH, it will be available on Dish TV and Airtel Digital TV initially, but within two months the aim is to be on all the direct-to-home (DTH) platforms.

Viacom International Media Networks president, CEO Bob Bakish said, ?Comedy Central is one of Viacom?s most distinct and successful franchises globally. We feel that the time is now right for Viacom18 to introduce Comedy Central in India, given the growth curve in the Indian television entertainment market.?

Viacom was planning to get Comedy Central to India for quite a while now. Said Viacom18 Media senior VP, GM English entertainment Ferzad Palia, ?The time is right partly due to the spread of digitisation and also because people at this time are stressed. They are open to comedy and to laughing at themselves. Exposure to international content is growing as people increasingly travel.?

The programming will be a mix of sitcoms, sketch comedy, British comedy, stand ups and gags. Some of the shows the channel will air include Daily Show with John Stewart, South Park, Saturday Night Live, 30 Rock, The Office and Seinfeld. Movies will eventually air during the weekends.

Local shows will form part of the content strategy. ?There will be something for everyone. Among other things, we will develop our own talent which we would take overseas to give them a wider platform.?

For the youth, South Park will air a block called Cinderella Hour at midnight. Shows like Fawlty Towers, Allo Allo will air on the weekend where people have more time on their hands. ?Unlike other channels that mainly run marathons to allow viewers to catch up on the weekend, Comedy Central will also have premieres. In terms of the channel?s overall content, around half of it will be fresh,? said Palia.

Comedy Central has no plans to introduce a dubbed language feed as the nuances of comedy are difficult to translate. ?The channel will, however, have subtitles,? said Palia.

The business model for the channel will be led by advertising, followed by subscription. ?Many advertisers today want to own humour as a platform. We will ask advertisers how they want to use us. We will create packages and interaction mechanisms. Our relationship with advertisers will take the form of activities and doing on-ground events with them among other things,? said Palia.

In India, Viacom18 is planning to take the brand beyond the television screens and is planning to have live events and merchandising.

The launch will be backed later by an extensive marketing campaign. ?Besides television, print, outdoor, other touchpoints will be created including gyms, salons, cafes, cinema halls. 500-600 touch points will be there including in places where one might not expect it like hospitals and chemists through things like prescription pads. We have tied up with Religare Wellness,? averred Palia.

New media will be used as a brand extension. ?We will be present on YouTube, Twitter, etc. We will also have a dial in service on the mobile. The success will rest on how much people interact with the channel. It is not about how it fares in eight weeks. This is a long term commitment,? said Palia.

BBH is the creative agency while Vizeum is the media agency for the channel.

?We are confident that Comedy Central will carve out its own space within no time. All Viacom18 channels are doing extremely well,? said Bakish.

Viacom18 already airs Hindi general entertainment channel Colors, youth channel MTV, kids channel Nick, English entertainment channel Vh1 and has recently launched action channel for young audience ? Sonic.

Initially launched in the US in 1991, Comedy Central started global expansion late 2006. At present, Comedy Central has localised channels in Poland, Germany, Netherlands, Italy, Hungary, Sweden, Ireland, United Kingdom, New Zealand, Israel and Spain.

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