By Sahil Patel
In recent months, Funny or Die has been shedding its label as a “comedy website” — at least within industry circles*. The company has developed and released numerous projects for platforms other than the web, namely television. Along with transitioning its “Drunk History” web series to Comedy Central, and selling a sports-based documentary series to Discovery Channel, Funny or Die is also behind Chris Hardwick’s late-night comedy show, “@midnight,” which also airs on Comedy Central.
It’s a big step for the long-time web video company — and a successful one at that. Per Deadline, Comedy Central just picked up “@midnight” for 40 weeks of new episodes, which will begin airing on January 6.
The show was originally given a test-run of one month to see how it would fare following Comedy Central’s one-two punch of “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report.” Since it premiered, “@midnight” has risen to become the third-highest rated show for the core 18–34 demo among all cable late-night programs.
The show joins “Billy on the Street” as Funny or Die’s two most successful ventures on television to date. Though at the rate Funny or Die seems to be expanding beyond online video, they might not be the only ones for long.
It’s interesting, though, for a web-video brand as well known as Funny or Die to make such a significant push to traditional media. It’s easy to guess why — while Funny or Die would probably tell you that it wants its stuff to be on every screen imaginable, it’s also very likely that the company is focusing on TV because that’s still where the money is. Yep, as the saying goes, no one is making money in online video, and the ones who are, aren’t making as much as they could if they were on TV. So if you’re producer like Funny or Die, with a recognizable names and strong ties to the TV business, why not move some of your business there?
“@midnight” is executive produced by Hardwick, Thomas Lennon, Robert Ben Garant, and Mike Farah for Funny or Die; showrunner Jack Martin; and Alex Murray for Brillstein Entertainment.
* I imagine most “consumers” still think of it as a place to watch funny videos on the web.