Name: Brad Wood
Title: Director of acquisitions, Comedy Central UK
Brad Wood leads acquisitions at Comedy Central, where he sources content and acquisitions for a range of international Viacom comedy channels, including Jill Offman’s Comedy Central UK. Prior to his current role, he was an entertainment and lifestyle buyer for Discovery Channel in the UK and western Europe, was an acquisitions manager at the Living TV Group, and an exec at Virgin Media Television.
TBI: What channels do you buy for, what are their headline programming needs?
BW: Comedy Central and Comedy Central Extra in the UK and Hungary, Comedy Central in New Zealand and Paramount Comedy in Russia. Whilst the backbone of our schedules is US sitcoms and animation I am keen to see anything funny from anywhere in the world. I want to find the next best thing in comedy.
TBI: Should producers and distributors seek out acquisitions people at a local level or is buying handled centrally?
BW: We handle acquisitions on a territory-by-territory basis. We can point you in the right direction if needed.
TBI: What is the cycle – are there times of year you are focused on buying and prebuying?
BW: The LA Screenings is a particularly busy period, but we are doing deals all year round. We can act quickly and opportunistically if we see something we like.
TBI: Do you commission locally?
BW: Yes. We have been piloting some multi-camera sitcoms, filmed in the UK. Those which go to series will be syndicated via our international channels. We are trying to find a break-out series in the non-scripted genre too – it just has to be very funny and something that works across key markets. Stand-up is something we produce at a local level to bring recognisable talent to the channel.
TBI: Do you have long-running deals with major studios and distributors?
BW: Studio content accounts for a large percentage of our inventory, but we don’t have formal output deals with any of the majors. In the last few months we have acquired some exciting UK secondary content for Comedy Central UK via our ongoing relationships with suppliers like Avalon, FremantleMedia and Endemol.
TBI: Which of the programming markets do you find the most productive?
BW: The LA Screenings is very important, but as we broaden the genre base on Comedy Central, MIPCOM and MIPTV are essential to ensure we are front-of-mind to content suppliers as new programming comes to market.
TBI: What is the single most successful acquired show across your channels?
BW: I think it’s fair to say Friends stands the test of time.
TBI: What acquired shows will you launch in the next few weeks/months?
BW: We recently launched Impractical Jokers (below left)– the most successful show on TruTV in the US. We have the UK premiere rights to all seven seasons and are confident our audience will really love it.
We have also just started airing Russell Howard’s Good News (below right) on our UK channel. This is part of the Avalon deal we signed a few months ago and paves the way for two brand new commissions with Russell that we will be filming over the next year or so.
Looking ahead will be bringing comedian Jack Whitehall and Mr T to the channel via Bad Education and World’s Craziest Fools. Plus we have the final season of Two and a Half Men (second above) coming up and the launch of Friends with Better Lives, which we acquired from Fox.
TBI: What should distributors know about your channels before pitching content?
BW: Our mission is to seek out the funny in everything and make our viewers’ days just that little bit happier. We want to own every flavor of comedy and therefore are looking for funny content in all shapes and sizes.
BW: Rights are constantly evolving depending on the territory, but SVOD box-sets are on my agenda as they help build audiences and bring them back to the channel. An extended catch-up window in the form of reverse EPG is on the horizon too.
TBI: What is the key challenge facing buyers in today’s market?
BW: There is increased competition for eyeballs and content with more and more channels launching and OTT platforms like Netflix and Amazon entering the market.
For a channel like Comedy Central, for which acquisitions form an important part of our schedule, we need to secure enhanced rights at a competitive rate in order to compete on an even playing field.