Comedy Central Analysis - August 2011



* Bold denotes programming change


Comedy Central is adept at mixing original series with acquisitions such as ITS ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA and SCRUBS to deliver consistent young adult audiences. Their strategy of using established lead-ins such as SOUTH PARK to introduce new hits such as TOSH.0 has paid off: top-rated TOSH.0 is now being used in a similar fashion to introduce new series. The latest debut to benefit from a SOUTH PARK lead-in, WORKAHOLICS, was renewed for a second season after only four episodes.

With over 200 episodes still in rotation, SOUTH PARK, the traditional go-to series to fill problem time periods, has been joined by FUTURAMA and TOSH.0 in that role. Friday nights are devoted to Stand-Up specials, with movies and more Stand-Up  dominating the rest of the Weekend.

Comedy Central's schedule stands out in nonfiction cable (excluding news/sports networks) because two of its highest-profile franchises, THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART and THE COLBERT REPORT, are weekday live-to-tape productions. Comedy Central's programs are arranged on a grid rare for its dependably predictable pattern -- day-to-day, week-to-week, month-to-month, even year-to-year. These folks surely have some of the strongest appointment viewing numbers in the business. Their audience is also unusually, enviably young – hovering, on average, around thirty-one years old. That it also skews male should make you imagine the sound of money being printed.


Live Primetime Ratings Comparison August 2011 vs. August 2010 (% Change)




Monday 8-11pm




Tuesday 8-11pm




Wednesday 8-11pm




Thursday 8-11pm




Friday 8-11pm




Saturday 8-11pm




Sunday 8-11pm




MTWTFSS 8-11pm




Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample

Similar to July, August was down across-the-board by modest double-digits. Only Tuesday showed notable demo growth, as  Monday,  Wednesday and Thursday suffered distinct declines in HH and  demos. August'S HH and demo delivery was essentially flat with last month.

On Mondays in August an early-Prime movie usually led into IT'S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA  from 9-11pm. While  the two-hour block grows steadily through the night, Households and younger men are off by 1/3 from the series performance in the same time period in 2010. The night's top offering was a repeat of  JEFF DUNHAM special.

On Tuesday,  repeats of the just- renewed 1030pm offering WORKAHOLICS  struggled to hold more than half of the lead-in provided by fresh TOSH.0 episodes at 10pm.   TOSH.0 continues to be the strongest series on Comedy Central.  TOSH.0 grows significantly at 9p, and that growth continues through the one and half hour block.

Wednesday suffered from a lack of fresh episodes  of SOUTH PARK at 10pm. The network's losses on this night were exacerbated by new 1030pm vehicle JON BENJAMIN HAS A VAN's loss of more than 40% of the lead-in's delivery for HH and M18-49 the first two weeks of the survey. The good news was the immediate return of viewers to 10pm levels once another run of SOUTH PARK replaced BENJAMIN at 1030pm in week 3.

With the 35  episodes of CHAPPELLE'S SHOW double-running from 8-9pm steadily for over three years, that series had begun to decline in recent months. Despite a seeming return to form in May and June, CHAPPELLE'S numbers in August were well below 2010 levels, with younger women down by nearly half from last year.

The continuing roll out of of Season 2 of UGLY AMERICANS  Thursday at 1030pm led to declines in the 40-50% range from 10pm FUTURAMA. The night was off slightly in HH and men demos from the same lineup last month.

Two repeats of DANIEL TOSH: HAPPY THROUGH, along with KEVIN HART SERIOUSLY FUNNY were the top  Stand-Up offerings during the weekend.

JUST FRIENDS was the top-rated weekend Movie offering this month.


Comedy ranks among the top 10 cablers for the 18-34 demographic, and mainly with a mix of their original series, stand-up and sketch, not off-net acquisitions like most of the other cable networks.

Originals are sketch, stand-up, reality, and animation.

Comedy over the past year or so has actively been buying movie packages from many of the big studio distributors and it doesn't look like they are slowing down anytime soon.


Comedy's strategy of having young male demographics as their primary audience has helped them for potential growth. Comedy is on a roll and focusing on the future by securing top talent and development deals. Projects in development run the gamut from short-form and sketch/variety to scripted narrative and animation starring a cross-section of top comedic talent. Sketch comedies and animation are on tap for Comedy as part of its new slate of original pilots. Recent sitcoms (WORKAHOLICS)  and animation (UGLY AMERICANS) have earned immediate second season orders, which keeps fresh material with a proven track record on the schedule for all four quarters.

Comedy Central knows what's funny. One of the many growing networks, they are one of the most successful for on-air, online and on-the-go mobile technology.According to network honcho Michele Ganeless: " Our strategy is to provide our audience with the tools they need to become evangelists for the shows and talent they love. If we give them the right tools and materials, social media allows them to spread the word on their own, with a voice of authenticity that can only come from the fans."

They give their viewers access to the cutting-edge original programming, stand-up and sketch comedy, plus offbeat comedy TV series and movies. Their strategy of attracting the young male demographic continues to grow month to month whether their strategy be one off originals or stunt/holiday programming.

Comedy continues to acquire a variety of original stand-up comedy programs and specials. There are three outlets currently for talent that the network features stand-up shows: COMEDY CENTRAL PRESENTS, LIVE AT GOTHAM, as well as one-hour specials filmed exclusively for COMEDY CENTRAL.

Comedy, which like TBS, keeps its entire focus on the Comedy genre, has new seasons of several original series in production for 2011-12, including Futurama, South Park and Tosh.0  Cable networks in record numbers are launching their own comedies out of sheer necessity because there are so few comedies being scheduled by the broadcast networks. Since the late 1990s, reality shows have steadily displaced comedies on the broadcast side, and many broadcast comedy writers have shifted to cable.