Comedy’s 'Mencia’ Won’t Mind Wide Support

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Comedy Central is spreading the laughs from sketch comedy series Mind of Mencia across many video platforms, supporting a series that helped fill the ratings void after Chappelle’s Show shut down last year.

Mencia’s second season debuts March 21.

Viacom Inc.-owned Comedy Central’s promotional plans for Mencia encompass wireless phones, broadband, on-demand video and even pay-per-view distribution of video material featuring comedian and star Carlos Mencia, according to Richard Loomis, senior vice president of marketing at Comedy.

“Our industry is changing dramatically and how consumers, particularly young adults, are consuming entertainment is changing dramatically,” Loomis said. “I think the main thing here is for us to keep pace and even outpace consumers in terms of their wanting and demanding to have content whenever and wherever they want it.”

Mencia quietly became a hit after bowing last July. Over a 13-week run, it averaged a 1.2 household rating and a 0.84 rating among persons 18 to 49, according to Nielsen Media Research.

Loomis said Mencia is a rising star the network cherishes but isn’t expected to be a replacement for former ratings juggernaut Chappelle’s Show, which fell victim to the mid-career crisis of its star, Dave Chappelle. “I don’t think anyone is a replacement for anyone else,” Loomis said.

A proposed stand alone pay-per-view event featuring Mencia on April 1 is expected to be the first of such efforts by Comedy Central to branch out beyond basic cable. “We have a number of assets and shows that play well in that arena in terms of things that are uncensored so we can push the envelope further,” Loomis said, holding back specifics.

A one-hour Mencia stand-up special on March 12, sponsored by Sierra Mist, also will help heavily promote Mind of Mencia’s return.

Short video clips from the first season of Mencia — plus wallpaper, ring tones and ringbacks — are already available for mobile-phone users, via Comedy Central Mobile.

iPod users with video-enabled devices can download each episode of Mencia’s first season on Apple Computer Inc.’s iTunes service for $1.99 each. Episodes from the new season will be on iTunes the day after they air on Comedy Central, Loomis said.

DVDs of the first season go on sale on March 21. The first two seasons of Chappelle’s Show are the two top selling TV-show-based DVDs ever, the network said.

Comedy Central’s Motherload broadband video site will feature weekly Mencia updates plus clips from the first two seasons. It also will feature extras and behind-scenes footage from the first season and a related interactive game.

Mencia also will take part in a multi-city Comedy Central Live road show this fall.

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