Onion Slices Off ONN Video

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News-satire organization
The Onion will make
its debut on cable with two
scripted series premiering
in January.

IFC will look to build up
its Friday comedy block
with the Jan. 21 premiere
of the Onion News Network,
while Comedy Central will
parlay The Onion’s alternative
look at sports with
the Jan. 11 debut of Onion

The two series will bring
the popular fake newspaper/
news website franchise
to cable for the first time.
The Onion, which initially debuted in 1988 as a parody of
print newspapers like The New York Times and USA Today,
began offering online “news” video shorts in 2007 under
the moniker “The Onion News Network,” according to The
CEO Steve Hannah.

Executives from both IFC and Comedy Central hope
The Onion — which averages 7.5 million unique viewers
per month via its website, onionnewsnetwork.com
— will appeal to young viewers in much the same way
as Comedy Central’s late-night flagship, The Daily Show
With Jon Stewart

IFC executive vice president and general manager Jennifer
Caserta Priore said that Onion News Network offers
a unique and comedic perspective on contemporary
news issues that will appeal to 18-to-49-year-old adults
in a format that resembles a traditional newscast. The series
will be pared with another new IFC comedy series,
Portlandia, as part of the network’s Friday-night original
comedy block.

“The way they present the news is parallel to the way the
news is presented in its real form,” she said. “They never
wink at the camera that this is not true — they presented it
as real as would as an Anderson Cooper present the news.”

The weekly, 30-minute Onion SportsDome series —
which will offer an Onion-esque take on the latest sports
news — will air as the Tuesday night lead-in to Comedy’s
The Daily Show, according to Dave Bernath, executive
vice president of program strategy and multiplatform
programming for the network.

“We feel very strongly that Onion SportsDome brings
the best of the Comedy Central and The Onion brands to
sports,” Bernath said.

Despite millions of online viewers and now two branded
cable series, Hannah said he’s not concerned about overexposing
the franchise. The Onion’s brand of humor will
translate well from short-form Web videos to the longerform
30-minute cable series, he said.

“We’ve been underexposed on television, and the shows
are very different — one is a sports show and one is more
news-oriented,” he said. “I think the common thread is
that it’s The Onion view of the world, and that will appeal
to viewers.”

IFC’s Caserta Priore is also not concerned about competing
Onion-based shows on cable.

“We deal with news and political events and we won’t
touch upon sports with our show,” she said. “I know that
it’s important to The Onion to really expand their world
into other media.”