Comedy Central taps broadband for the MotherLoad

The cable channel is launching a broadband video channel to extend its brand to its tech-savvy audience.

Cable channel Comedy Central, which is owned by media conglomerate Viacom, announced Tuesday that it will launch its first broadband-optimized video channel on Nov. 1.

Initially the site, called MotherLoad, will have five distinct channels and offer more than 450 video clips, with roughly 50 to 80 new clips added per week. The offerings on the site will include three-minute clips from original Comedy Central shows, including "The Daily Show" and "The Colbert Report."

It will also offer original content developed especially for the Web site. This will include titles such as "I Love the Thirties," "Odd Todd" and "Meet the Creeps." Each weekday, comedian Greg Giraldo, host of the network's "Friday Night with Greg Giraldo," will anchor a one-minute roundup of what's new on the site.

With about 85 percent of Comedy Central's viewers already using broadband, creating a more interactive channel seemed like a perfect opportunity to drive additional advertising revenue and extend the brand of the cable channel, said executives during a press conference in New York City.

"We see this as a way to serve our loyal audience, who tend to be early adopters of technology," said Glen Ginsburg, vice president of interactive sales for Comedy Central. "And broadband has become a must-have for advertising buys these days."

Verizon Communications' broadband division is the main advertiser for the site's initial launch. Specially created 30-second commercials will run on the site. Other advertisers include Honda, Volkswagen, Verizon Wireless, and the United States Army.

Virtually, all of the content on MotherLoad will be in a short, 3-minute video clip format. The site wasn't designed to replace the cable channel, executives said.

"We still believe in the 30-minute show format," said Lou Wallach, senior vice president of original programming and development for Comedy Central. "People still want to watch TV in their living rooms and not on their PCs."

But as technology improves, people are already starting to watch TV shows that are streamed from the Internet. Companies such as Akimbo Systems offer a video-on-demand service that allows viewers to watch niche videos they have downloaded on set-top boxes. Eventually, new products from Microsoft and Linksys will enable viewers to watch more Internet content on the their television sets.

For now, executives from Comedy Central say they aren't interested in streaming full-length shows over the Internet.

"This is about extending the Comedy Central brand to where our users are," said Jason Hirschhorn, senior vice president of digital media for MTV. "It's a complement to what you see on TV. Cable offers a different viewer experience right now. I'm sure things will shift in the future, but I can't say now what that shift will be or how fast it will happen."

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