Hat Trick Productions, the TV show maker with which the UK site a partnership, told paidContent:UK: “Following an assessment of the last 18 months, during which time Funny Or Die UK has seen numerous visitors to its site who have in turn gone into the American site, the decision has been made to merge the UK site and content into the American Funny Or Die website.”
The main site, originally founded by Will Ferrell and Adam McKay, launched a UK wing with Hat Trick in September 2008, counting Little Britain‘s Matt Lucas and David Walliams as sort of patrons.
BBC comedian James Serafinowicz headed a London team along with Brass Eye director Al Campbell and Skins writers Dawson Bros. Hat Trick was to act as a talent scout and its sole production partner, plus as Funny Or Die’s UK office space. Serafinowicz concedes the site is not a money-spinner…
In December, Hat Trick had said the site would breakeven early this year and had unique users in the six-figure bracket. But someone has now decided to pull the plug.
Funny Or Die shareholder HBO had been distributing the Walliams and Lucas Little Britain USA series State-side at the time of the UK launch, so it served some purpose short-lived Transatlantic marketing tie-up.
C21 Media: “It is Hat Trick’s second unsuccessful foray into the comedy portal business, after an earlier JV with Virgin Media (NSDQ: VMED), Comedy Flannel, also bit the dust. Other UK players in the space, such as Warner Music Entertainment’s Comedybox and RDF Media-backed Comedy Demon, closed down last year.”
Even Endemol, which had been amongst the producers making original web video drama for sites like MSN and Bebo, disbanded its digital unit recently, saying the ad-funded original web video model is “severely compromised“.