Comedy Central Readies Broadband MotherLoad

Cable network Comedy Central is gearing up to launch its broadband video channel, the "Comedy Central MotherLoad." The Web destination, which will go live on Nov. 1, will consist of a 416x332 pixel-sized viewing screen and five regularly updated channels, from which visitors can craft their own TV-like viewing experience.

Content on offer will include two- to-eight-minute clips from new and archived shows, stand-up performances, sneak previews, and behind-the-scenes footage, as well as MotherLoad-exclusive series. "Odd Todd"--one such series, made up of 11 episodes--is an animated short about a listless schlub driven to the brink by joblessness. MotherLoad will launch with about 450 clips, and will then add between 50 and 80 clips each week.

All of the content is supported by 15- and 30-second pre-roll advertising, which will run every time a user views three pieces of content. Verizon Broadband will be the lead sponsor at launch, but other advertisers--including Verizon Wireless, the U.S. Army, and Volkswagen--have also signed on. Like Comedy Central's cable content, MotherLoad is by and large aimed at 15- to-30-year-old tech-savvy and educated males.

MotherLoad will also focus much of its energy on product placement deals, according to Glenn Ginsburg, vice president of interactive sales. At launch, for example, MotherLoad will debut a series built around Verizon Broadband's high-speed Internet service. Each episode challenges a featured comedian to tell jokes as fast as possible, with the intention of associating Verizon's service with high speed.

And while MotherLoad is intended as a Web destination, Comedy Central will encourage distribution through a variety of channels from Apple's video iPod to major Internet portals, explained Jason Hirschhorn, senior vice president of digital music and media at MTV Networks. "As long as the content is clearly branded, I can't think of any reason why we'd discourage any opportunity to expand our audience," he said.

Hirschhorn also insisted that MotherLoad is meant as a "complementary experience" to Comedy Central's TV offerings--and the idea that television is heading toward extinction is a myth, he added.

While's MotherLoad's layout bears a strong resemblance to MTV's Web-based content channel, "MTV Overdrive"--both of which are Viacom entities--MotherLoad will launch with several original features. A MotherLoad user, for example, will be able to create his or her own clip lineup, and then send it off to a friend, opening the door to a viral marketing effect.