Comedy Central has decided that its dominion over comedy television and DVDs isn’t good enough. They’re following in the footsteps of ambitious networks like the Disney Channel and Nickelodeon to create Comedy Central Enterprises, a business division that will sell consumer products, home video, CDs and digital downloads, publishing, and will also be dedicated to running live comedy tours.
“Forming the Enterprises division also provides benefits to our talent partners [comedians] by offering them massive exposure to our fans and a multitude of opportunities and points of distribution to increase their own following and generate revenue by getting their content in front of an ever-widening consumer base,” said Mitch Fried, who was promoted to the newly-formed position of Executive Vice President, Comedy Central Enterprises.
Translating television success into merchandise is not a new idea, Fried pointed out to The New York Times, but few networks are able to pull it off, and “the bulk of them are on the children’s end of the business,” capitalizing on characters like Mickey Mouse and SpongeBob SquarePants — not Daniel Tosh and Adam DeVine from Workaholics.
The new division will capitalize on long-standing relationships with comics for whom Comedy Central has brought a great deal of success, offering them increased visibility through merchandise and, of course, cashing in on their growing popularity. Fried cited the example of Gabriel Iglesias, whom the network discovered early. They put together a tour for the comic, which led to a television show, an hour special and DVD, and another tour this year which generated $7 million in ticket sales.
Under the new Enterprises umbrella, all of this could be penned in one deal, with T-shirts and coffee-table books thrown in, too. Iglesias is grateful for what the network has done for his career. “Comedy Central came in and took what I was doing to a new level,” he said. “Putting that name on what I’m doing adds real value.”