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Comedy Central Frees The Daily Show

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Comedy Central freed The Daily Show today. The Viacom-owned network unveiled, making available more than 13,000 video clips of the program dating back to 1999. Users can search the video database for specific topics, or use an adjustable timeline to search for clips from a particular date (check out a younger Jon Stewart, from December 1999, below).

(Note: It takes a long time to load)

This freeing of The Daily Show fits perfectly with the strategy of Mika Salmi, digital president of MTV Networks, of people finding content online “through thousands of front doors.” (full disclosure: I used to work for Salmi at AtomFilms, and was an employee of Viacom). Instead of aggregating all of Comedy Central’s properties under, they’ll be splintered out. Earlier this year, Viacom announced a slate of shows getting this same verticalized treatment, including another Comedy Central fave, The Sarah Silverman Program.

From a fan perspective, this is cool because you won’t have to wade through an uber site for crumbs of content from your favorite shows. And from Viacom’s standpoint, once it has a couple sites up, the process will become turnkey and easy to replicate — even with their least-popular shows. Look at ’em grabbin’ that long tail!

With, Comedy Central is ditching that most-hated 30-second spot, instead monetizing the clips with seven-second pre-rolls and a small ad “bug” that appears in the lower quarter of the screen.

A very cool feature on the redesigned Daily Show site is the “Wayback Randomizer.” Click on the button and calendar dates spin around like a Vegas slot machine popping up with a clip from a random date in history. But it’s currently either buggy or intentionally hampered, because repeated tests only went as far back as 2005 (and I clicked on that button a lot).

A couple of other minor quibbles: The site is running full video box ads on the right-hand side that play simultaneously with the clip. This could be an ad operations glitch, but it’s still annoying to have two competing video clips playing at the same time. And the timeline search function didn’t work that well. Adjusting the slide to Oct. 18, 2000, for example, brought back results from November.

And where are all the Craig Kilborn clips? j/k. j/k.

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