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Comedy Central Comes to Twitter

Comedy comes to Twitter this week with the first all-Twitter comedy festival. The 5-day event will consist primarily of short video and written clips. With Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks, along with Judd Apatow lined up for a simultaneous live event at the Paley Center in LA, it’s hoped that the 2000 Year Old Man will make his first appearance on Twitter. Content will be available under the #ComedyFest hashtag.

The festival represents the growing confluence between content and social media, particularly video. Comedy is a particularly rich source of social media content. The reason is quite simply that at its simplest, jokes can be easy to break down into Tweets and skits lend themselves to the video shorts that online viewers especially value. Viacom owned Comedy Central, especially with the launch of its online video sharing service Vine, has been actively pursuing social media and online services. They see this as the future direction of media. The challenge that remains is how to monetize the distribution channel.

In the near future, Comedy Central will introduce a free, ad-supported app, called CC: Stand-Up. Designed to look and feel like a cable channel devoted to stand-up, the app will offer videos of comedians performing routines. The site will feature an algorithm designed along the lines of Amazon’s recommendation engine. It will make recommendations to viewers based on previous searches and views that they have made.

Some individual performers have already proven quite adept in the transition to online and social media. Last year comedian Lewis C.K. distributed a comedy special directly to viewers from his website. He made $1 million in two weeks. Aziz Ansari best known for his work on Parks and Recreation has distributed his content in much the same way. Comedy Central has taken a page from their playbook, opening a site that allows comedians to sell content to viewers directly to via streaming. Comedy Central takes a cut of the revenues.

The mechanism exists for Comedy Central and others to distribute content directly online. The technology is no longer a challenge. It’s available in most homes. What remains to been seen is whether the business model works. Can comedy content providers successfully mine the distribution channel, following the lead of Louis C.K.and others ¬†to reap rich rewards.

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