July 11, 2012
By Kaylee Hultgren
Comedy Central has combined its consumer products, home video, CDs, digital downloads, publishing and live touring brand extensions into a single, overarching business division dubbed Comedy Central Enterprises. Former svp, Comedy Central Live Entertainment, Mitch Fried will lead as evp, while vps Steve Raizes and Jack Vaughn will take on additional responsibilities to aid the new division’s cross-pollination marketing strategy.
According to Fried, the net’s goal is to reach its Millennial audience more strategically, on multiple platforms. “It makes sense to have it all under one umbrella because when I’m talking to talent’s management of the talent themselves, there are opportunities to cross-pollinate these different types of programs,” he said.
For instance, when comedians like Gabriel Iglesias and Daniel Tosh are on tour the net can cross-promote their DVDs with the help of retail partners such as Best Buy. Though cross-promotion is nothing new, housing all the businesses under one division will increase efficiency and maximize revenue opportunities.
Fried’s current focus is the recently rolled out program with retailer Urban Outfitters that coincided with “Indecision,” its political coverage of the election. But in September Comedy Central will start conversations with book retailers via the net’s publishing arm, the newest of the now consolidated ancillary businesses. More announcements about multiplatform deals are coming this month, said Fried.
It’s the fledgling publishing division that has the most potential. Though its growth is comparable to the net’s audio and video business, which accounts for high sales and prestige, Fried said, “It’s an interesting vehicle…. Our challenge with that is to combine the traditional print publishing with the new digital publishing. I think that’s where the real opportunity is.” Whereas other TV nets may not own their content, Comedy Central can use comedians’ video assets, which are largely live performance-based, to market a particular talent’s array of assets. Bypassing rights issues gives the net added flexibility, he said.
Now that the ancillary businesses are encompassed under one division, the challenge from a corporate business perspective will be continued growth and maximizing revenue potential. Fried’s personal goal is to maximize relationships with the talent. “I have strong relationships with them to begin with, so now it’s [getting] them to trust me a little bit in how we work with them in other ways.”