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Comedy Central

History and Ownership

Comedy Central was launched in April of 1991 following a merger between Time Warner and Viacom. The merger occurred when HBO, owned by Time Warner, combined its comedy channel with MTV Network's comedy channel "HA!".


Target Audiences

Comedy Central's targets audiences ranging from the ages of 18-49, highly concentrating on adults and men. Viewers are not distracted easily, ranking Comedy Central among the top cable networks in key demos where the viewers are "paying full attention” to its programs. [1]  

Advertising Strategies

Comedy Central uses paid search to build brand association around its prize program assets.  It buys Google ads for searches for shows such as South Park.  Comedy Central is paying for ‘association.’ Besides trying to gain viewers of the show, they are trying to establish loyalty around the web-based services that relate to the shows.  Claudia Setini-Samuels, head of branding and online "It’s unusual for a channel to this but it makes sense. We’re tracking what’s being searched for based around comedy and that will have a direct influence on our content – the site must be based on what people are looking for right now." [2]

Comedy Central also looks to reach viewers through mobile applications.  Comedy Central was using a SMS/text-based delivery jokes service before they developed an iPhone app that allows users to subscribe to their Joke of the Day service through the downloadable application. [3]


Comedy Central, known as the only all-comedy network, is the #1 provider of surprising, laugh-out-loud programming. Comedy Central "connects with a young adult audience thirsting for fearless, outrageous originals with The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, South Park, The Colbert Report....along with stand-up specials and can't-miss events like the annual Comedy Central Roast." [4] Comedy Central's original programs help with the reinventing of classic genres such as news, animation, and comedy variety.

Specific Partnerships

Comedy Central has partnered with live entertainment firms such as Live Nation. The partnership includes the launch of "Comedy Central's House of Comedy Live from House of Blues," in House of Blues venues nationwide. Live Nation has said the cooperations have drawn more than 1 million fans to Comedy Central-branded tours. And Senior VP of Comedy Central Live Entertainment, Mitch Fried, said "With Live Nation and its House of Blues venues, we have found the perfect companions to expand our thriving touring business and grow the Comedy Central brand outwards and off channel." As a part of the deal, Comedy Central will be integrated throughout the venues and retail shops of the House of Blues, including that of on and off stage, and also in show marketing. Comedy Central, likewise, will give advertisers the opportunity to become official sponsors of the comedic series. [5]

Scheduling & Promotional Techniques

Comedy Central uses a variety of platforms including TV, print online, and mobile to get the word out. Back in 2005, Comedy Central was promoting a new show 'Stella,' through the uses of "influencer" mailings from Cornerstone Marketing (New York), street teams, at clubs and bars, and among other places. Comedy Central also gave Verizon Wireless members preview clips of the show and ran text-based tune-in alerts for Sprint PCS users. Glenn Ginsburg, formal VP of interactive ad sales, said, "Working cross-platform maximizes the reach for an audience, especially with Stella. Hopefully, this will generate a lot of interest." [6]

Signature Programing and General Trends

Current Programming

The Daily Show (1996-)

premiered in the summer of 1996 and was initially hosted by Craig Kilbourn. In 1999 Jon Stewart who had previously worked at MTV news took over as the show's anchor. The Show airs Monday through Thursday at 11pm. Episodes are reaired several times during the week during daytime. Even though the show is dubbed "fake news" it has been recognized as an influential political commentary. [7] During the period of the 2008 presidential election the show averaged about 2 million viewers every night. The show fares particularly well with male audiences from 18-34. [8] [9] The show is currently renewed through June 2013.[10]  The show's structure is a mixture of newscast and late night talkshow. Stewart discusses current political events and features "mock" political commentators as well as real pundits. The show also features guests outside the political arena such as actors and musicians.[11]


  1. "Comedy Central: Profile Data" Cable Television Advertising Bureau. Web.
  2. Warner, Roger. "Paid Search and Comedy Central." Content and Motion. 12 Apr 2009. Web.
  3. "Comedy Central's Joke of the Day iPhone App Launches." Method, Inc. 17 Jul 2009.
  4. "Comedy Central: Profile Data" Cable Television Advertising Bureau. Web.
  5. Szalai, Georg. "Comedy Central, Live Nation Expand Deal." Hollywood Reporter. 18 Feb 2010. Web.
  6. "Comedy Central Stellabration." BrandWeek. 13 Jun 2005. Web.
  7. Baym, Geoffrey: "The Daily Show: Discursive Integration and the reinvention of Political Journalism."
  8. Starr, Michael. New York Post. 25 Sep 2008. Web.
  9. Gorman, Bill. TV By The Numbers. 8 Sep 2010. Web.
  10. United Press International, Inc. April 2010. Web.
  11. "Official Homepage." The Daily Show.