They feature Chris Rock, Lewis Black, Dane Cook, George Lopez, Louis CK, Cedric the Entertainer, Dennis Miller and Rosanne Barr. The comedy channel will be able to run the specials just over a year after their HBO premiere, a shorter window than it had on the first two deals and a potential boon to the network. Comedy has also re-licensed 15 library titles from HBO, bringing to 202 the number of titles it currently has under license from HBO.
Comedy and HBO have had a content-licensing relationship since 2004, when they signed a deal for Comedy to access 138 titles from HBO’s standup library. In 2005, they signed another deal for 41 titles, including specials by Ellen DeGeneres and Whoopi Goldberg. Those titles began running on Comedy at the beginning of 2007.
The deal benefits both parties’ programming strategies: While HBO helps its bottom line by selling product to other cable networks, Comedy rounds out its own slate of comedy specials.
"If you look at the TV landscape and you’re talking about cable, you’re talking about Comedy Central in basic cable and HBO in pay," says Comedy Senior VP of Programming Dave Bernath. "They have been a leader in producing great standup for years, and it’s something we do very well. So for us, it’s just a great opportunity to tap into all of their original production."
Says Scott Carlin, president, domestic distribution, HBO, "We have a great relationship and a wonderful business with them. They’re the ideal client for the comedy specials we put out and one of the only ones that has a perpetual appetite on this scale."