Who Will Have the Last Laugh Online?

With HBO shutting down This Just In and NBC rumored to be closing DotComedy, the world of funny online video suddenly got very serious.

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The closures can be chalked up, at least in part, to industry growing pains. Between Funny or Die, Comedy Central, CollegeHumor, and SuperDeluxe, there was already a glut of high-profile comedy video aggregators. And that doesn’t even take into account unscripted laugh sites like Break.com, sketch comedy group sites like Derrick, or stand-up comedy sites such as Rooftop Comedy.

We’ve had our issues with DotComedy’s approach and use of pro vlogs. The site always felt muddled, like an afterthought, and it competed with NBC.com (GE) and the newly-launched Hulu. Oh, and it wasn’t funny.

So which comedy site will crash and burn next?

There’s been talk of Funny or Die’s traffic troubles when Will Ferrell isn’t front and center. But that site was cheap to launch and has access to celebs, so I wouldn’t count it out.

Comedy Central’s new verticalized approach, with individual sites for hits like The Daily Show and The Sarah Silverman Program, should reinvigorate its prospects, plus it can drive people from its TV programming. And it just unveiled that sister site AtomFilms will be re-branded as a comey-centric vertical channel next year. (Disclosure: I used to work there.)CollegeHumor is the number one comedy site with roughly 1.6 million visitors in August, according to comScore. More importantly, CollegeHumor remains focused. It’s only trying to create viral hits aimed a predominantly young, male demographic. People know what to expect when they go, and like Menudo, when one audience gets too old, there’s another crop waiting to take its place.


That leaves SuperDeluxe, which has spent good money securing a number of comedic acts. But traffic hasn’t taken off, and SuperDeluxe properties haven’t made the leap to other media yet. It wouldn’t be too hard to imagine a scenario in which SuperDeluxe was folded into parent company Turner’s Adult Swim franchise, with Swim’s premium content propping up the comedy site.

But as sites like This Just In and DotComedy die off, more sites like My Damn Channel will rush in to take its place. Comedy lends itself to the quick-hit entertainment snack culture the web has spawned, and there is always someone, somewhere who thinks their funny video will attract an audience.

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