Babelgum continues to build out its push into original web series, announcing a handful of new developments today including a two-year exclusive licensing deal with web comedy powerhouse Funny or Die. As part of the deal, Babelgum is getting the mobile rights to Funny or Die’s video content, like its tentpole Will Ferrell The Landlord videos and Good Cop Baby Cop.
The mobile pairing makes sense, as Babelgum’s new mobile app seems pretty solid, particularly on the iPhone. What’s missing is a deep library of short form content to fill it with. To solve that problem the company has been on a buying spree lately, licensing a number of popular series.
We saw the beginnings of this with the deal back in May to license twenty new episodes of Goodnight Burbank, and later deals that brought Horrible People and Turbo Dates, Pilot Season, Between Two Ferns, Wainy Days and other popular comedy series to the site.
Is it just me, or is Babelgum quickly becoming the TBS of the web? Getting secondary windows of top series is basically the web TV version of syndication, and they are getting their pick of shows with plenty of running room left in them.
Also announced was plans to build out the site’s Comedy Channel under Amber J. Lawson, who previously headed up programming at maniaTV. Lawson say her plan is to find and develop “smart comedy” on the site, including the development of new original series. “We’re looking to work with series that build an audience by design,” said Lawson in an interview about her plans for the channel. “We’re going to do a lot of original series in the next few months,” Lawson added.
Kicking that off, Lawson disclosed three new series coming out this summer, all developed with Fuel Industries. Headlining the list is The Sensible Guy’s Guide to Travel starring comedian Dave Foley (Kids in the Hall) which premieres next month. The other two are The Carolers and animated series Larry the Labrat.
The revenue model for these series appears to be largely advertising based and sponsor Stoli vodka has been backing the comedy channel since its launch in April. For now the mobile app remains free with no plans to charge for content, despite mobile users’ willingness to make micro-payments, particularly in Babelgum’s home base of Europe.