The move grows out of the cable network's stand-up touring business, which has been in operation since 2002. It has sold over 1.5 million tickets, grossing $60 million in box-office receipts. The new division will broaden out to include all network-run comedy festivals, comedy performance DVDs and CDs.
Comedy Central Live Entertainment will be headed by Mitch Fried, who has been senior vice president of promotion marketing at Comedy Central. Fried will now be senior vice president of Comedy Central Live Entertainment.
Michele Ganeless, president of the network, calls the division the "next step in the evolution of the Comedy Central brand."
Comedy Central has done festivals with scores of noted comedians, such as Lewis Black, Jim Gaffigan, Brian Regan, Wanda Sykes, Dave Attell, Dave Chappelle and Carlos Mencia.
The channel recently signed up comedian Stephen Lynch, who starred in Broadway's "The Wedding Singer," and has already been featured in two "Comedy Central Presents" half-hour specials. He will do a major-market U.S. stand-up tour as well as Comedy Central's first live international stand-up tour, with stops in various countries, including England, Ireland, Sweden and Holland.
The only all-comedy network, Comedy Central--owned by Viacom--is seen in more than 95 million homes in the U.S.