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Comedy network nabs movies

'Reno,' 'Borat' on channel's dance card

Comedy Central will lay out a total of about $10 million for exclusive cable TV rights to “Reno 911!: Miami” and “Team America: World Police” and for a shared window to “Borat.”

“Original series are still Comedy Central’s most important programming, but we regard movies as a complement,” said senior VP of programming David Bernath.

Net skeds 250-300 movies a year, but most run in off-hours, except for primetime on Saturday and Sunday. Because they come with built-in recognition, theatrical pics serve as promotional vehicles for Comedy Central’s firstrun series.

Twentieth Century Fox’s “Reno 911!: Miami,” which will fetch about $2.2 million for a four-year license term, was an obvious buy, because the “Reno 911!” series is one of Comedy Central’s best performers, averaging 1.3 million viewers during its most recent spate of original runs, well above the net’s 1 million primetime average. Cabler has commissioned a fifth season of the program.

Movie becomes available in fall 2009, after its exclusive pay TV window on HBO.

Similarly, Comedy Central went after Paramount’s “Team America” because it’s the brainchild of Trey Parker and Matt Stone, creators of the network’s signature show “South Park.” Net has ponied up about $3.2 million for an exclusive four-year license term, and the pic’s available in June, having already run on Showtime in the pay window.

“Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan,” from 20th Century Fox, will arrive at Comedy Central in 2010 after premiering for multiple runs on USA. (HBO owns the earlier pay window.) Pic will zip back and forth between USA and Comedy Central each year during a five-year license term. Comedy Central’s license fee comes to about $4.5 million.

Bernath said that the one common denominator that links “Reno,” “Team America” and “Borat” is edginess, which draws the net’s target demo of adults 18-49. He points out that last year, Comedy Central shelled out for network windows to Universal’s “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” and New Line’s “Wedding Crashers,” both likely to have particular appeal to adults 18-49.

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