Sian Ju Tan
Vice President of MTV & Comedy Central Brands, Asia
Viacom International Media Networks
Comedy Central launched a dedicated Asian network across the region at the start of November and struck a raft of deals with carriage operators including Singapore’s Starhub. Philippines’ SkyTel and Mongolia’s SkyMedia. The channel will also launch on Mediacorp’s over-the-top interactive service Toggle at the start of 2013 in Singapore. Shows that will launch include The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, South Park and Lionsgate-distributed Charlie Sheen-fronted Anger Management as well as local content including The Noose and Jo Koy: Lights Out.
Why did you decide to launch Comedy Central Asia in the region?
Viacom International Media Networks is focused on making Comedy Central our third global channel and it has had great success in the US and Europe and in newly launched markets like India and Russia. Asia did not have a regional channel dedicated to comedy, so the opportunity was perfect to deliver outstanding programming to an underserved audience across Southeast Asia.
How much of the content will be similar to the channel in the US?
From India to the United Kingdom, no one Comedy Central channel is the same because we customise our channels to regional and local tastes. Like Comedy Central in the US, we will carry all forms of comedy genres including stand up, sitcoms, animation, sketch and talk shows. We will also be acquiring Asian-produced comedies to put an Asian spin on all things funny.
Do you have a local acquisitions team? Do you have a local production team?
Yes, we have a local acquisitions team who has secured Anger Management as a Comedy Central Asia exclusive. We will be looking for opportunities to produce, coproduce and commission local productions in the future and are already in active discussions with comedians and comedy producers on ideas and content that will fit Comedy Central Asia.
There will be local content including shows like The Noose. How important is local content? Will you aim to produce and acquire more local content in 2013?
Asian shows like The Noose add spice to the Western offerings giving a healthy dose of programming on the Channel from the East and West. We are already keeping our eyes peeled for more Asian shows and talent that can travel regionally and will look into local productions and commissions.
Local content is very important to us and we want Comedy Central Asia to be the platform to showcase Asian comedy and comedic talent. In addition to subtitling, localisation initiatives in the pipeline include local productions, commissions and more acquisitions.
The initial roll out includes seven territories with nine providers; will you look to increase this next year?
Yes. Last month, we announced that the eighth territory, Thailand will be launching Comedy Central Asia on December 1 via IPTV operator TOT IPTV. Singapore’s MediaCorp will launch the Channel in the first quarter of 2013 on its OTT interactive service, Toggle. We’ve had tremendous interest in the channel from operators all around the region and continue to be in active talks with many of them.