9:00am PT by Lesley Goldberg
Comedy Central Launches In-House Studio With Roster of Overall Deals
Viacom's Comedy Central is launching its own in-house studio, Comedy Central Productions.
The new studio/production arm — which will be overseen by Comedy Central, Paramount Network and TV Land president Kent Alterman — has signed a slew of the network's top producers to multiyear overall deals.
Putting down roots with CCP are Lucia Aniello and Paul W. Downs' Paulilu (Broad City, Rough Night, The Other Two); Anthony King (who earned a Tony nomination for writing the musical Beetlejuice); Daniel Powell and Alex Bach at Irony Point (Inside Amy Schumer); and Stuart Miller (Comedy Central's upcoming Klepper).
CCP becomes the latest Viacom-owned cabler to establish a studio counterpart with the larger goal of selling content to third-party outlets as well as developing for internal destinations. MTV Studios was launched last June with the goal of monetizing the cable network's 35 years of library content. MTV Studios this week enlisted former HBO Films exec Sheila Nevins to launch MTV Documentary Films in an effort to revitalize the music-themed cabler's MTV News and Docs division that launched two decades ago. That unit was behind the Emmy winner True Life, the Oscar-nominated Tupac: Resurrection and the Academy Award winner Hustle & Flow. Nevins oversees a similar doc strategy: Sell to other platforms and develop for Viacom brands including MTV. The moves are all part CEO Bob Bakish's larger Viacom strategy to help bolster the media giant's bottom line. This way, if top talent wants to pursue a project for another outlet, Viacom will still be involved as a producer (and financial partner).
"For years we’ve been successfully expanding the trustworthy Comedy Central brand beyond linear, extending to digital, social, podcasts, radio and live events. The next logical step is to establish Comedy Central Productions,” Alterman said Wednesday in a statement. "By leaning into our development expertise and production capabilities, and by partnering with some of the smartest and funniest talent in comedy, this is another way we can thrive. And putting more great comedy in the world couldn’t hurt."
The launch of CCP also helps the cable network keep its top talent in-house at a time when Comedy Central has struggled to do so (see Stephen Colbert, Jon Stewart, Amy Schumer). Aniello and Downs, King, Irony Point and Miller join a roster of talent with overall deals including Broad City's Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer, Roy Wood Jr., Jim Jefferies and Chris Distefano.
Protecting top talent has been increasingly important in the Peak TV era as outlets like Disney, Comcast and WarnerMedia prep streaming services in a bid to compete with Netflix, which has aggressively signed prolific producers like Shonda Rhimes (Grey's Anatomy) and Ryan Murphy (American Horror Story) to nine-figure deals.
CCP is the latest expansion for Comedy Central, which in the recent past has expanded into live events (like Clusterfest) and audio properties like Comedy Central Radio on Sirius XM.