What the $!&$*%?: Comedy Central has quietly been airing “South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut” in all its four-letter word glory for more than a month.
That movie, along with other R-rated fare, is housed in the laffer channel’s just-launched 1 a.m. programming block Secret Stash, dedicated to super-serving loyal auds with the risque humor Comedy Central banks its name on via fare like “Chappelle’s Show” and recent hit “Drawn Together.”
Spurred by positive feedback and impressive ratings, Stash will continue to air Saturdays until the end of the year. Lineup includes a pair of Chris Rock standup specials plus such films as “Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back,” “Richard Pryor: Live in Concert,” “Scary Movie 2,” “The Queens of Comedy” and the Cameron Diaz starrer “The Sweetest Thing,” which will feature footage not released in theaters including “The Penis Song.”
Amid this year’s FCC fervor to crack down across the broadcast spectrum, Comedy Central brass thought a late night block in safe-harbor hours that would push the envelope for its 18- to 34-year-old following would be key, especially in the face of lagging Nielsens for latenight talkers on the major nets.
“We’re an adult channel. If we promote things responsibly, there is no reason not to take it up another level in latenight,” says net VP of programming Marc Leonard, who spearheaded the creation of Stash.
Stash has even edged Cartoon Network’s mega-marketed Adult Swim block, which runs 11 p.m.-5 a.m. For the past month, Stash has edged Adult Swim’s 18-34 ratings on Saturday nights (0.6 rating and 408,000 viewers vs. 0.4 and 289,000).
What’s more, telecasts of the “South Park” movie have reached blockbuster latenight heights of 1.6 million viewers, while other movies in the block are averaging an also-impressive 1 million.
Vidgame publishers and movie studios have been the most eager to come aboard, according to media buyers and Comedy Central ad sales execs.
Other cablers have already made progress with advertisers who are willing to back primetime skeins such as FX’s gritty cop drama “The Shield” and sex-driven sudser “Nip/Tuck.” Even Spike TV celebrated Al Pacino last month, airing all three “Godfather” movies and “Dog Day Afternoon” unedited at 9 p.m.
Leonard says the cabler is in negotiations with a vidgame publisher that is interested in extending the life of Stash for two weeks in January – timed the release of a new title.
Comedy Central secretly test-ran the “South Park” movie bleep-free last summer without complaint