Comedy Central Continues Global Expansion With Southeast Asia Launch

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Comedy Central

The channel is fast becoming Viacom's third major global network brand after MTV and Nickelodeon.

LONDON - Viacom continues to push ahead with its plans to make Comedy Central its third major global network brand after MTV and Nickelodeon with a launch in Southeast Asia set for next month.

The move will mark the comedy powerhouse's broader foray into Asia, where other Viacom channels already have a solid presence, following the January launch of Comedy Central India.

Viacom says that Comedy Central, which debuted in the U.S. in 1991 and features somewhat different content abroad, including local shows, local standup and U.S. sitcoms, is the only global, multi-platform entertainment brand that is fully focused on comedy 24 hours a day.

Comedy Central's portfolio of comedy channels can be seen in such countries as the U.K., Italy, Spain, Germany, Sweden, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Hungary, Poland, Israel and Australia. Overall, Comedy Central can be seen in 200 million-plus households in more than 70 territories. Overall, Viacom has 23 comedy channels, including Paramount Comedy in Russia and Spain and a slew of Comedy Central-branded channels.

Over the past six months, Comedy Central has launched in Latin America, India and Africa. It has also added Comedy Central Extra in such countries as the Netherlands and a network branded as Paramount Comedy in Russia.

Next up, Comedy Central Asia is set to launch, debuting in such key Southeast Asian markets as Singapore, the Philippines and Cambodia on November 1.

Among the programming on Comedy Central Asia will be The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, South Park, The Comedy Central Roast of David Hasselhoff, such sitcoms as Happily Divorced, Workaholics and Mind Your Language, sketch comedy show Key & Peele and Asian comedy highlights, such as The Noose, a top-rated Singapore-produced comedy series spoofing news shows.

“Comedy Central is our fastest growing brand, and we want to ride that global momentum into our sixth continent, Asia, where we see a vibrant and growing population with a great hunger for new programming," said Bob Bakish, CEO of Viacom International Media Networks.

"We continue to expand the regional success of our adult-focused business internationally as ratings for Comedy Central improved 27 percent across the board, with double-digit increases in markets, including the U.K, Germany, Spain, Poland, The Netherlands, Sweden and Hungary," Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman said on his company's quarterly earnings conference call in August. "Comedy Central is fast becoming our third global brand."

Earlier this year, the channel launched in Latin America. Comedy Central Latin America offers 24-hour entertainment targeted at the Latin-American audience, including sitcoms, animation fare, movies, acquisitions and local productions. Shows include Mr. Sunshine, Married With Children, The Sarah Silverman Show and local originals such as The Spooky Show.

Among other recent launches, Viacom at the start of August brought Comedy Central Extra to more than 1 million homes in the Adria region, which includes Croatia, Serbia, Slovenia, Bosnia, Montenegro and Macedonia, via cable operator and Internet provider Serbian Broadband.

Comedy Central Extra is a network dedicated to Comedy Central's original U.S. programming. It first launched in the U.K. in 2009, followed by The Netherlands in Nov. 2011.

"We have recently launched Comedy Central Extra in a couple of markets as an additional brand," said Dan Ligtvoet, chair of the Comedy Central International brand team and executive vp, managing director of the Viacom International Media Networks north Europe cluster. "It's more like comedy for specialists - it's closer to the Comedy Central you know from the U.S. with South Park, The Daily Show, Colbert Report and Workaholics. We are looking at Comedy Central Extra and are seeing increasing demand from our affiliate partners."

The Comedy Central global growth push is part of Viacom's, and other entertainment conglomerate's attempt to add growth drivers outside the more mature U.S. market.

"Last year, we did about $200 million of operating income in our international media networks," Dauman said earlier this year. "And I expect that to at least triple to quadruple over the next five years."


Twitter: @georgszalai