Comedy Launches The MotherLoad Of All Broadband Destinations

Hoping to strike one on a new media platform, cable network Comedy Central Tuesday unveiled "MotherLoad," a new broadband Web destination designed to extend its reach online. Launching on Nov. 1, the site is aimed at capturing Comedy Central's core young adult audience when they're online or away from the TV. With bite-sized three-minute clips, including a significant mix of Web-only content, "MotherLoad" seems well-positioned to capture the short attention spans of many online surfers.

Characterizing the new broadband video portal as "comedy for you--what you want, when you want it," Beth Lewand, vice president-digital media at Comedy Central, said the "MotherLoad" will offer "a backstage seat of all our programming, highlights of all our shows, sneak previews, and extra exclusive content that we produce around all our shows--interviews, outtakes, and so on." Exclusive content will include selections from hits such as "Strangers with Candy" and "TV Funhouse."

Comedy Central is also positioning the site as an "incubator" for new shows and concepts, holding out the possibility of migrating successful newcomers to television. However, the site will not post full-length TV shows, steering instead toward "best of" highlights and original Web-only content in order to maximize the brand's advertising revenue.



"MotherLoad" is designed around the dual "sit back"/"lean in" Web use model, with a choice between lengthier consecutive programming and individually composed play lists. Easily accessible e-mail links also allow Comedy Central marketers to capitalize on viral entertainment sharing to spread the MotherLoad brand to all corners of the target demographic.

"Like our broadband-optimized content, the ads look great even in full-screen mode," boasted Glenn Ginsburg, vice president of interactive sales at Comedy Central. However, for the time being, advertising appears only in a small animated unit in the bottom left-hand corner of the Web page, as well as banners appearing between content elements. Ads are streamed alongside video content, as well as bookending video content on occasion.

The Web platform's flexibility also allows Comedy Central to run innovative ads combining the MotherLoad brand with online sponsors like Verizon Broadband. One series of ads, in which a comedian is challenged to deliver a standup joke in a "race" with a well-known athlete performing in his or her signature sport, stresses the speed of Verizon's broadband service. Given the inexhaustible palette of comedic forms--always falling within the bounds of good taste, of course--the promise of this kind of co-branded advertising seems virtually limitless, and could extend to other goods and services beyond broadband providers.

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