Viacom International Media Networks is launching Comedy Central in the Middle East on the region’s leading pay-TV player OSN, two years after the two companies forged an alliance that marked a significant strategic move for Viacom in an area where it has considerable room for growth.
Comedy Central HD will be the third brand for VIMN in the region, complementing the existing presence of MTV and Nickelodeon/NickJr.
The channel’s offerings will include “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah,” Comedy Central favorites “Tosh.0,” “Inside Amy Schumer,” and a dedicated block of Spike content comprising “Lip Sync Battle,” as well as “Catch a Contractor,” the non-scripted series that sees host Adam Carolla on a mission to track down shady contractors and drag them back to the scene of their crimes. Internationally produced shows will include sitcom “I Live with Models.” All content, including animation, will be subtitled in Arabic.
It will launch on May 7 across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region where there is a robust growth rate in pay-TV penetration expected to reach 19 percent of the population by 2019. Two thirds of the population are under 30.
Comedy Central will bring a brand of quintessentially American humour to the region on an unprecedented scale, reactions to which will be interesting to gauge. But it will also create an opportunity for local talents to showcase their skills with plans for locally produced programming This means a big opportunity for the burgeoning Arabic comedy scene to boost its local visibility and also travel internationally.
“We are committed, as in all our regions, to growing the local comedy scene and investing in local production and we will be focussing our energies on this from the first year,” vowed Raffaele Annecchino, Viacom’s Executive Vice-President for South Europe, Middle East and Africa, in a statement.
“Everybody loves a good laugh and OSN is offering great value with the addition of Comedy Central HD, a perfect fit to the entertainment preferences of people in the region,” enthused Emad Marcos, OSN Senior Vice President in its Media Partners and Digital unit.
All shows premiering on Comedy Central HD will be available on OSN’s award-winning catch-up service, OSN Play and via OSN on Demand.