At long last, 'Daily Show' is firmly anchored on Web
Own site houses thousands of clipsAfter more than a decade on the air, Comedy Central's "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart" has its own online home.
The new site, DailyShow.com, will go live at noon EDT today, presenting nearly the entire video archive of the show for the past nine years.
The site contains more than 16,000 video clips spanning headlines, correspondent pieces and such regular segments as Lewis Black's "Back in Black" or "This Week in God." For now, the archives start in early 1999, covering the Jon Stewart-era of the MTV Networks show. The earlier version of the program, which started in 1996 with host Craig Kilborn, could be available by early 2008.
Uninterrupted episodes will not be available, though full shows can, for the most part, be pieced together from the clips.
Erik Flannigan, executive vp digital media at Viacom's MTV Networks, said that before this site, most of the clips from past years had "vanished." The show's Web site had been housed in the larger Comedy Central site, and episodes also have been available on Apple's iTunes for paid download.
Flannigan also pointed out that Google's YouTube hosted many unlicensed clips, but that site only started in 2005 and is entangled in a $1 billion lawsuit with Viacom for that exact type of copyright infringement.
The new site will be the only place to see legal "Daily Show" clips online, though a spokesman said that a few selected clips could become available on sites through syndication deals. The show recently did this with Yahoo for correspondent Rob Riggle's reports from Iraq.
Although Flannigan admitted that YouTube helped whet the appetite for users searching for smaller comedic videos, he also stressed that the official site would have come together even if YouTube hadn't existed. With the new site equipped with community features like message boards, it also can help shape discussion.
"People should be reacting to 'The Daily Show' on its own site," Flannigan said. "God bless them doing it everywhere else, but this should be the epicenter of it."
The site's home page will focus on the previous night's episode, from which clips will be posted by 8 a.m. EST the next morning, eventually being pushed up to 5 a.m. The destination also is equipped with a timeline that can locate archived clips by date and search tools, like other Viacom sites powered by Google.
Clips also will be tagged and broken into categories based on subject matter, correspondent or a celebrity name involved in the segment. All of these can be sorted separately as well.
Flannigan said that the site houses a "super majority" of all content from the show in the Stewart era. He said that some guests on the program didn't sign a release letting those segments onto the Web, but he declined to mention names.
Comedy Central vp digital media Paul Beddoe-Stephens said that the site has been a long-term goal ever since he started at the company in 1999. The group started to conceptualize the site in February and in June the team started the exhaustive process of encoding videos and building the vast destination.
"We're not sure any show has put their entire history online before," Flannigan said.
Flannigan and Beddoe-Stephens said that the site should be out of beta by year's end. They also said there will be more "phases" to the rollout, with more community features such as a "wiki"-history of the show compiled by fans and the option for users to make playlists based on show clips.
The site will feature banner ads as well as video ads integrated into the clips. Flannigan would not reveal the exact nature of the new ads, but he said that the company is trying to get away from preroll and the new model will be "more consumer-friendly."
Flannigan said Stewart and several executive producers and writers on the show saw the site last week and were "absolutely ecstatic." He added that they were excited not just that they could see their work again but also to use the site as a research tool.
MTVN employs a vertical strategy to their digital properties, meaning that their presence is spread out by show and subject matter instead of residing in one specific place. Other shows in the Comedy Central family will get a similar treatment, Flannigan said.
The new South Park Studios site, set to launch in March, will be archived in a similar fashion, said Flannigan, though he would not offer any details. This site will replace the "South Park" site on Comedy Central and is part of the unprecedented joint venture between Viacom and series creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone that will see them split ad revenue with the conglomerate.
"The Colbert Report" and Comedy Central's library of stand-up performances also could get full-archived sites. Flannigan said those could come together in first-half 2008.
The site for "The Sarah Silverman Program," launched this month, has a similar structure, albeit for that show's much shorter archive of nine episodes.