Steve Koonin

Comedy Impact Report '08: Tube Titans

As the half-hour comedy business has cratered on the broadcast webs this decade, Turner Entertainment Networks prexy Steve Koonin has turned TBS into a leading destination for TV laughs.

In terms of original programming, he’s done so in a seemingly counterintuitive style, booking the kinds of broad-skewing traditional family comedies — “The Bill Engvall Show” and “Tyler Perry’s House of Payne,” for example — the networks claim don’t work.

Simultaneously, Turner’s TBS channel has complemented its original series by becoming one of the market’s most aggressive and innovative bidders for offnet sitcoms, including a unique $130 million pact with NBC U that allowed TBS to air recent episodes of “The Office” several years before they would become available to the broader offnet syndie marketplace.

Koonin has also bolstered TBS’ “Very Funny” brand through the vigorous support of live events such as Las Vegas’ Comedy Festival and next summer’s Chicago incarnation of the Just for Laughs fest.

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