The other day while paging through the Comedy Central schedule, a particular title caught my eye. Happily Divorced, it was called, and it turns out is a sitcom co-written by Fran Drescher (pictured) about a couple who are to divorce after the husband confesses that he is gay.
They have been married for 18 years and after an amicable divorce, they discover it will be impossible for them to live apart because of financial reasons. So now she has to adjust to his new lifestyle as he brings gay partners into their home.
Happy to do this article properly, it turns out we may have published this story before not too long ago. A colleague pointed out that Happily Divorced had aired on one M-Net’s channels.
Watching more and more material on Comedy Central, we discovered some of the programmes had indeed been aired by their competition thereby defeating the point of doing write-ups on them.
Instead, we had to approach Comedy Central and find out why, in a free market, where they can see what the competition is doing, they still come second in broadcasting certain shows.
“M-Net has an output deal with all the major studios to get first preference when it comes to certain shows,” said Evert van der Veer, the channel director of Comedy Central.
This arrangement, said Van der Veer, makes it tough for other channels to obtain certain titles before M-Net does as its relationship with these huge inter- national studios is a longstanding one.
“For example, Warner Bros is a big company which has a deal with M-Net and that means all the stuff they make goes straight to M-Net channels, period. I can go to Warner Bros and ask for some of that material, but they can’t give it to me before M-Net uses it,” he explained.
This then explains why Comedy Central only gets to show certain material you may have seen on M-Net a little later. However, it is all not doom and gloom because there other ponds to fish in – like when Comedy Central gets the material first.
“We also have this kind of arrangement with other studios and that’s how we get big shows like Anger Management or Men At Work first,” Van der Veer said.
He then included a valid point about not being concerned, especially with sitcoms, about how many times shows are re-run on TV. Van der Veer believes there will always be a guaranteed following.
“If you have seen something like The Big Bang Theory or My Wife and Kids which have loads and loads of episodes, you can’t necessarily remember them all. If you do, you will still enjoy re-watching them because it is comedy and some people can never get enough of it the first time around,” he shared.
That said, Comedy Central has its own US counterpart which exclusively broadcasts fresh shows to the African market that other channels don’t have access to.
“We should not forget that a lot of stuff is produced for Comedy Central US and we have access to that. We are talking about South Park and Saturday Nite Live,” Van der Veer said.
• Happily Divorced airs on Comedy Central (DStv channel 122) from tomorrow at 7.40pm.