Comedy Central tweaks vid platform

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With uncertainty looming over its presence on YouTube, Comedy Central is refining its broadband video strategy.

The network is launching a revamped version of its online programming platform, MotherLoad, this month with a new syndicated video player at its heart, the network said Wednesday.

MotherLoad will be integrated deeper into Comedy-Central.com while offering a syndication capability allowing users to grab and embed their favorite clips for posting on their own Web pages. The new video player is part of a makeover of the channel's Web site.

The site also will use a Flash video format and is designed to be more user-compatible on Macs and older PCs and for users with pop-up blockers.

"We are trying to create the best experience for the users and putting the content into their hands," said Michele Ganeless, executive vp and general manager at Comedy Central, attributing the site's changes to feedback from users and results of usability studies done by the network.

While content grabbed by users for their own use will still include attached advertising, Ganeless said the network is still working out the details when it comes to handling advertising revenue.

"We are working out a model to incorporate users into the process and finding the best way possible to get our content where they want it," she said.

Beth Lewand, vp digital media programming and production at Comedy Central, said that while the network has been tweaking and modifying MotherLoad throughout the past year with design and functionality changes, the biggest impact will come from the syndication aspect.

"It's a way of giving our audience more control over how they use our content and video," Lewand said. "It gives users the opportunity to play with our content -- to use it on their home pages and to bring it further out into the world."

Ganeless said the changes are unrelated to the recent incident involving Comedy Central clips being pulled from YouTube, then restored. A deal between the viral video site and Viacom is expected to be announced soon, sources said.

In response to the YouTube situation, a statement from Viacom, Comedy Central's parent company, read, "Like our peers in the media industry, we are focused on finding the right business model for professionally created content to be legally distributed on the Internet."

Among the video clips that were pulled included scenes from "South Park," "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart" and "The Colbert Report."
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