Comedy Central Brass Talk New Slate, Kevin Hart Orders, Trevor Noah Ratings

Kent Alterman and Michele Ganeless discuss new moves, diversity and the state of the network's evolving late night.
Courtesy of Comedy Central

Capping off a week of announcements, including several renewals and big plans for Snapchat content, Comedy Central announced its full slate on Thursday morning.

The large lineup includes five series pickups, 10 new specials and 11 pilot orders. Among the series orders are two projects with Kevin Hart — travel series Hart in the City and an untitled showcase for up-and-coming standup performers — and standup specials starring Kurt Braunohler, Deon Cole, Pete Davidson, Joe DeRosa, Trevor Moore, Big Jay Oakerson, Dan Soder and The Goddamn Comedy Jam.

There's also a special in the works from Daily Show correspondent Jordan Klepper, two roast-centric projects from Jeff Ross and seven comedy documentaries from Drunk History and Another Period executive producer Jeremy Konner.

Among the several pilot and script deals, the most notable might be for a pilot presentation of Channing Tatum's Germany. The animated project follows a community of germs living in a Petri dish, with Tatum voicing one of the characters. Inside Amy Schumer writer Kyle Dunnigan has also signed on for a script deal, with Schumer producing.


Ahead of the Thursday upfront presentation for advertisers, original programming president Kent Alterman and network president Michele Ganeless spoke with The Hollywood Reporter about the latest push — and offered a status update on The Daily Show With Trevor Noah.

There are projects with Amy Schumer, Kevin Hart and Channing Tatum in your latest slate. What's the state of talent partnerships at the network?

Alterman: In most cases we already have the relationships. But we have been finding more and more big, established talent are approaching us about doing their passion projects or if they've identified emerging talent they really believe in — much in the way that Amy Poehler did with the Broad City girls here and Jason Sudeikis is doing with Tim Robinson and Sam Richardson in a show [Detroiters] that hasn't premiered yet. As we like to say, in this era of proliferation in people and content, we're still the number one brand in comedy.

Comedy Central has been out in front showcasing black voices and more female comedians. What's the internal discussion about diversity like right now?

Alterman: We're open to everything — whether it's gender, ethnicity or sexual orientation. We love the idea comedy can be one of the greatest ways of both reflecting and processing the world. We're always out there looking for new voices in every direction.

Ganeless: We want to be a reflection of our audience. And our audience is a millennial generation, which is the most diverse yet. We're developing with talent what reflects the perspectives and voices of that generation. It's the smartest, funniest idea that always gets on the air, but we also want to make sure we're reflecting that complete audience.

What's the key messaging this upfront?

Ganeless: We have the deepest bench, the largest and most diverse portfolio of comedy content across screens and platforms. We hit our 25th anniversary on Friday, and we're still the No. 1 place to get young guys. The Daily Show With Trevor Noah is still the No. 1 show with young guys in late night. It's the No. 2 show, just behind [Jimmy] Fallon, with all millennials. And we're really proud of that.



What do you think of Trevor's ratings six months in?

Ganeless: We didn't want to find the next Jon Stewart. We wanted to find someone who could give a voice to the millennial point of view and who could speak to them. That's what Trevor does — not just on linear, but across all platforms. We're excited about the growth and the diversity of the audience. We're also excited about the youth of the audience. The median age of The Daily Show had crept up considerably on linear.

Alterman: It's expanded internationally more than it was when Trevor got there.

Ganeless: We're in 170 countries and territories with The Daily Show. Trevor speaks to that worldview. All of the indicators point to long-term success.

Alterman: Creatively, what we see is that Trevor keeps evolving as a host. These shows evolve as they go. People always want compare Trevor to Jon, which is perfectly fair as long as you compare his first six months to Jon's first six months. It's really becoming Trevor's show. His voice is coming through more and more.

Where are you seeing his content being consumed the most?

Ganeless: It's everywhere. That sounds cliche, but even on a full-episode basis we're getting 650,000 full episode streams per episode on Hulu and the app. There's tremendous pickup of certain pieces on Facebook, YouTube and Snapchat. It's a multiplatform approach and consumption.

Larry Wilmore is pulling a more modest audience. What's the strategy there, one year out?

Ganeless: I think the greatest thing about The Nightly Show is the platform to present an array of diverse voices. The Colbert Report, which was unique and wonderful, was one voice. Here we have an ensemble that is incredibly diverse — be it Jordan Carlos, Mike Yard, Ricky Velez or many others. It's really to be commended for the conversations it generates on social issues of great importance. Our fans are responding to that in many ways, and we are so proud to be able to contribute to that conversation.

You've made a big push with Snapchat this week. What's the pull there?

Ganeless: It's about being the top place to get young guys — be that in late night or on Snapchat. It's an incredible platform for discovery for the younger audience. Mobile is where they're spending so much of their time. It's been a tool for development and a playground for talent and a completely monetizable platform. It's exciting for advertisers to be able to say they can reach fans in a native way.

Alterman: It's been great how quickly it's resonated with our audience. It's a platform to get our existing talent out there in different ways. Also, with a show like Not Safe With Nikki Glaser, we started Quickies With Nikki months out before our premiere. That became our most successful content on Snapchat, and it was a great way to get her voice for her show months in advance of the premiere. We've used it as a laboratory for us to develop ideas with emerging talent.

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