Jon Stewart Turns Out to Be Key to Viacom Web Strategy

'Daily Show' Host Re-Ups Contract as New Site Goes Live

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NEW YORK ( -- As it turns out, funnyman Jon Stewart means serious business to Viacom and its Comedy Central outlet.
Jon Stewart on the 'Daily Show'
Jon Stewart on the 'Daily Show'

The humor-oriented cable channel yesterday said it had reached an agreement with the host of its popular "The Daily Show" through 2010, and also unveiled a new web presence for the program, making available video clips from every episode dating back to 1999.

Churning out Comedy Central hits
In addition to hosting "The Daily Show," Mr. Stewart is also executive producer and writer and is the principal behind Busboy Productions, which has a "first-look" TV agreement with Comedy Central. Under this agreement, the two parties produced the popular "Daily Show" companion piece, "The Colbert Report." A new series, "Important Things with Demetri Martin," is slated to debut next summer.

Meanwhile, the new site,, will be expanded to offer clips from the program's entire history (Mr. Stewart took hold of its reins in 1999), totaling more than 13,000 videos. The launch of the new site is sponsored by AT&T, Hyundai, TiVo and Wendy's.

Besides offering show clips and video segments, the new site also features something known as "The Wayback Randomizer," which randomly picks a clip from any show from 1999 to the present day with a simple click.

Needs a successful video model
For Viacom, it's crucial that it figure out a successful model for its web video. The cable giant has filed a lawsuit charging copyright infringement against Google's YouTube in an attempt to get its content, especially bits from the popular "Daily Show," from appearing on the video sharing site.

The new web site seems better designed to give fans what they want, the ability to call up any clip from the show. It also offers one-stop shopping for all things "Daily Show"-related. Viewers can join the "Daily Show" community, buy episodes of the show from iTunes, download wallpaper and IM icons, or get tickets to the show.

And while Viacom rails against Google in court, it's not holding a grudge. Right at the top of is a search box, with "Powered by Google" logo prominently alongside.
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