to Be New Comedy Central Hub

AtomFilms is getting a makeover as the Comedy Central hub for original online comedy, building both a vertical portal and “a regular presence on TV.” The decade-old video site will finally find its home within MTV Networks, which acquired it and the rest of Atom Entertainment for $200 million over a year ago.

“People go to looking for Colbert,” AtomFilms General Manager Scott Roesch told NewTeeVee at his San Francisco office on Thursday. He thinks that’s why the network’s original content didn’t attract much of an audience. Now, while The Colbert Report and other MTVN shows like The Daily Show and South Park are getting their own content hubs, original content will also get its own vertical.

The site plans to relaunch in March of next year as AtomFilms and its parent have not yet finalized details for the portal’s on-air presence, but Roesch noted he is well aware of the failures with other clip shows, such as the CW’s Online Nation and VH1’s, and is looking to do something different.

As part of the revamp, Atom next year will be tripling its budget for original content, which it both commissions and licenses. The site, which currently sees 5 million unique visitors per month, will also be cutting some of its existing content (which is currently two-thirds comedic, according to Roesch), for example serious cinema. It will also be reducing its dependency on pre-roll ads by diversifying to new formats like overlays.

Comedy Central, despite the strength of its TV clips online (evidence: Viacom’s $1 billion lawsuit against YouTube), doesn’t have much of a presence as an original web content producer. The highlight so far was an original series in which people say what they’re really thinking, called Honesty (see embed below), which won a Webby Award this year. Other outlets such as CollegeHumor and Funny or Die have had more success (see Chris’ recent roundup).

Disclosure: NewTeeVee writer Chris Albrecht used to work for AtomFilms, but he didn’t have anything to do with this article.