Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman has told investors that he sees a big opportunity for his company to grow by promoting sales of consumer products tied to its entertainment brands. Here’s how Comedy Central plans to chip in:
NEW YORK, July 9, 2012 — COMEDY CENTRAL, the #1 brand in comedy, has created COMEDY CENTRAL Enterprises, a new business division that will focus on building upon COMEDY CENTRAL’s leadership position in the industry through consumer products, home video, CDs and digital downloads, publishing, and live touring, it was announced today by Michele Ganeless, President, COMEDY CENTRAL. Mitch Fried has been promoted to the newly formed position of Executive Vice President, COMEDY CENTRAL Enterprises and will head up the new business division, reporting to Ganeless. Fried was formerly Senior Vice President, COMEDY CENTRAL Live Entertainment.
“In the increasingly fractured world of content distribution, success today means reaching fans everywhere. The formation of COMEDY CENTRAL Enterprises strengthens our relationship with our fans. It’s another example of the kind of extension that keeps COMEDY CENTRAL the #1 brand in comedy,” said Ganeless. “Mitch Fried is an experienced and innovative executive with a long history at COMEDY CENTRAL. Respected and well-liked throughout the industry, he knows the brand intimately and is the perfect person to spearhead our efforts under the new Enterprises banner.”
“By consolidating these brand extensions into a single business division with a common goal, we are in a better position to grow and strengthen the brand and provide our fans with what they want most, easily-accessible, high-quality comedy, both on screens and off,” said Fried. “Forming the Enterprises division also provides benefits to our talent partners 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.”
COMEDY CENTRAL Enterprises will bring together a number of category-leading brand extensions under Fried’s oversight, including the previously independent Consumer Products, Home Entertainment, Records, Live Entertainment and Publishing divisions. Under Fried’s leadership, COMEDY CENTRAL Enterprises will incorporate everything from negotiating with talent representation to execution, distribution, production and marketing support of these ancillary businesses. Fried will seek to expand the network’s business partnerships with the talent community through omni-platform deals, which will encompass any combination of the division’s brand extensions. Reporting to Fried are Vice Presidents Steve Raizes and Jack Vaughn, who will be charged with developing and maximizing the synergistic elements of the new Enterprises division.
The industry-leading businesses now reporting to Fried under the Enterprises banner include:
• COMEDY CENTRAL Consumer Products — generating $2 billion at retail since its inception, the Consumer Products division negotiates with third parties to translate COMEDY CENTRAL shows, personalities and characters into consumer goods including apparel, social expressions, toys, games, electronics and consumables. Recent highlights include a partnership with Frito Lay and Wal-Mart to introduce “Cheesy Poofs” to the market in celebration of the 15th anniversary of “South Park,” as well as a licensing program surrounding “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” “The Colbert Report” and the brand’s own “Indecision” political coverage. Additional programs launching in 2012/2013 include efforts around “Tosh.0,” “Workaholics” and stand-up comedy.
• COMEDY CENTRAL Home Entertainment — responsible for over $500 million in sales since its creation, the Home Entertainment division includes DVD and digital on demand releases of the COMEDY CENTRAL series and stand-up specials distributed through Paramount Home Entertainment, including four of the top five stand-up DVD releases of 2011. Recent releases from Jeff Dunham and Gabriel Iglesias have sold a combined one million units in only six months. The upcoming slate includes artists such as Demetri Martin, Chris Hardwick and Patton Oswalt.
• COMEDY CENTRAL Live Entertainment — with over $100 million in box office receipts and over 2.7 million tickets sold, COMEDY CENTRAL Live Entertainment is one of the dominant players in live stand-up touring. In 2012 alone, COMEDY CENTRAL partnered with Daniel Tosh, Gabriel Iglesias and Jim Gaffigan on their respective tours, generating 375,000 tickets sold and $15 million in box office receipts. In addition to bringing major headliners to the masses, COMEDY CENTRAL Live has a college touring program that brings younger comedians to campuses across the country and produces a free, annual event in New York City, “COMEDY CENTRAL Park,” which this year featured correspondents, contributors and producers from “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.” COMEDY CENTRAL is also in its seventh year partnering with Live Nation in the “South Beach Comedy Festival” and will continue its partnership in the 8th Annual “New York Comedy Festival” with Caroline’s Comedy Club, taking over New York City each November.
• COMEDY CENTRAL Records — the world’s largest comedy label as well as one of the largest independent labels in the country, COMEDY CENTRAL Records’ catalog includes both spoken word and music from top comedic talent including COMEDY CENTRAL series and standup specials. Released via traditional CD and via digital download-to-own, the label has received eight GRAMMY® Award nominations since its launch in 2002, winning “Best Comedy Album” for the last three years. Along with critical acclaim, the Records division has produced numerous Gold, Platinum and Double-Platinum albums.
• Publishing — COMEDY CENTRAL recently announced a new publishing relationship with Running Press, a member of the Perseus Books Group, and will release its first title, a holiday-themed novelty book from Denis Leary, later this year.
Prior to his promotion to Executive Vice President, COMEDY CENTRAL Enterprises, Mitch Fried oversaw the brand’s successful live touring business as Senior Vice President, COMEDY CENTRAL Live Entertainment, a division which he launched in 2003. Fried joined COMEDY CENTRAL in 2001 as Vice President, Promotion Marketing and was promoted to Senior Vice President, Promotion Marketing in 2003. In those roles, he was responsible for all integrated marketing and sponsorship opportunities that supported the network’s advertising revenue, including movie studio relations, promotions and stunts. Fried also worked closely with the network’s advertising sales, programming and development groups to maximize revenue opportunities.
Before joining COMEDY CENTRAL, Fried was Senior Vice President, Marketing for Golden Books Entertainment Group in New York and prior to that he was Senior Vice President, Marketing at Broadway Video Entertainment, “Saturday Night Live’s” production company. He has served as Vice President of Marketing at Viewers Choice, and prior to that was Director of Marketing at Nickelodeon/Nick at Night and Director of Business Development at MTV Networks.
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