My Damn Channel Readies Live Comedy Show for YouTube Channel

4:00 AM PST 03/21/2012 by Georg Szalai

Hosted by Beth Hoyt from the company's new studio in New York, "My Damn Channel Live" will combine elements of late-night TV and social media to be "like TV, but on the Internet."


NEW YORK - Entertainment studio and distributor My Damn Channel is readying the launch of live comedy show My Damn Channel Live next week as part of YouTube's original content channel initiative and part of its own expansion of original output.



Hosted by actress, writer and comedian Beth Hoyt, the weekday afternoon program, which will start at 4pm ET and run 30 minutes on Wednesdays and around 10 minutes otherwise, expands the company's business with Google-owned YouTube and is designed to bring together elements of late-night TV and social media.



“The time is right to steal pages from TV’s playbook to reimagine a daily, live, hosted comedy show for the Internet,” said My Damn Channel founder and CEO Rob Barnett.



The show will have three elements, including interviews with celebrity guests, particularly ones with My Damn Channel shows and fans, such as David Wain, and interactions with viewers in real-time via social media. The show's third element will be premieres of videos from more than 30 new My Damn Channel original comedy series that are in the works and scheduled to debut this year, allowing for cross-promotion between the company's live show and other original content efforts.

"That is like the old tricks of the MTV world premiere videos," Barnett explained. "We want to put a spotlight on the birthing of content."



Executive produced by former MTV and VH-1 executive Barnett along with My Damn Channel co-founder and COO Warren Chao and director of content Jesse Cowell, the new series will feature Internet stars and talent from film and TV. The company plans to unveil the full slate in the weeks and months ahead. 



Meanwhile, My Damn Channel Live will debut next Wednesday, marking the latest content launch in the much-discussed YouTube push into original fare and the first original comedy program under the initiative. Viewers can watch and interact with episodes as they happen live at www.YouTube.com/MyDamnChannel or catch up on past episodes on demand at the same site or www.MyDamnChannel.com/live. 

Promos show Hoyt showing off her comedic chops, quipping that Home Alone is her favorite movie and telling her mother that My Damn Channel Live is "like TV, but on the Internet." Some elements of the show may be pre-taped, such as man-in-the-street surveys.



Meanwhile, the company has just re-launched its www.MyDamnChannel.com site, which has been its destination for premium online video. The redesign, the site's first complete overhaul since May 2009, includes new elements to, for example, expand social media tie-ins and functionality to drive engagement.



For its live show and its other production work, My Damn Channel in January and February built a new studio space inside Barnett's old office in the firm's Hell’s Kitchen headquarters in Manhattan. The studio has walls and corners with different backgrounds, providing several different set-ups for different segments. And the firm has increased its staff from a handful to a launch crew of about 25 in New York.



Barnett will executive produce My Damn Channel Live with a team led by Melissa Schneider, the showrunner and company’s director of production. The team also just brought on board a booker as it hopes to bring in celebrities from the My Damn Channel family and beyond for live chats when they are visiting New York.

"4pm is talent friendly," said Barnett. "They can pop over here before promotional work in the evenings." Said Schneider: "We want to be more fun than a late night show. Guests can be as engaged as they want in the preparations [of an interview segment] or just riff on stuff Beth brings up."



Barnett hopes that his firm's further push into originals and the Web site relaunch will help grow traffic and engagement on all its platforms. "We have always had a network model," he said. "We never believed in the single site philosophy."



My Damn Channel has had a presence on YouTube since 2007. For YouTube's investment in original content, the goal is to recoup the spending and reup the deal that saw YouTube give My Damn Channel and a slew of other content partners money to produce originals, Barnett said. How will YouTube make decisions on which channels to continue? "I expect they will look at channel subscribers, views and engagement," Barnett said. "We have a leg up there because of our crazy, live solution, so people will be more engaged."

Email: Georg,Szalai@thr.com

Twitter: @georgszalai

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