Comedy Central at peak TV glory, just as TV viewership is fading

If you want to get a sense of where Comedy Central stands in the TV landscape, consider this.

Consider these two things, really.

The basic cable TV network has so much quality programming that its “For Your Consideration” video for Emmy voters will remind you of such — Broad City, Inside Amy Schumer, The Daily Show, Key & Peele, Nathan For You, Review, The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore, South Park, Tosh.0, Workaholics. Roll the clip!

And this weekend’s New York Times Magazine features an in-depth look at where the network stands as it and its head Kent Alterman tries to adapt to diminishing TV viewership and reach audiences on whatever electronic devices and platforms they’re using in 2015 and beyond.

Of course, Jon Stewart’s impending departure from The Daily Show this summer after 16 years of building it into must-see late-night TV is a factor, too — and reporter Jonah Weiner reveals that Comedy Central engaged both Amy Poehler and Chris Rock in conversations about taking the anchor desk before eventually offering the job to Trevor Noah, who’ll assume the gig in September.

As for reaching audiences where they are today, the NYTMag cites stats from Comedy Central and Nielsen Media Research for this current third season of Inside Amy Schumer (episodes 1-7):

  • 27,007,746 YouTube views
  • 4,531,357 Facebook video views
  • 1,222,943 Hulu views
  • 4,249,479 SnapChat streams
  • 1,400,000 average TV audience

“The success of a show can go beyond the pure rating number,” Alterman said. “I rarely encounter anyone who hasn’t heard of Broad City and isn’t a fan of it — just anecdotally, it transcends age and gender. If you just looked at the ratings on the day of airing, it would suggest it’s not a wildly popular show. But I know otherwise.”

Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

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