Blue Collar comics get a home on Web

While the major Hollywood studios claim that the profit outlook for Internet offerings is too sketchy to give writers a percentage, an increasing number of big-media veterans are investing in the Web.

The latest example is, a website launched Wednesday that has dozens of professionally made humor videos headlined by stars Jeff Foxworthy, Bill Engvall and the comic known as Larry the Cable Guy, Dan Whitney.

The site is funded by the comics; Will Ferrell's FunnyOrDie .com, which is backed by Sequoia Capital; and J.P. Williams, the talent manager who sent Foxworthy and others on the road under the successful Blue Collar Comedy brand.

"A lot of it came about based on the frustration of having only one outlet to sell comedy to, [cable channel] Comedy Central," Williams said.

In addition to creating the website, Williams is a co-chairman, along with Lawrence Lyttle, who founded a television production company in the 1990s that produced "Judge Judy," "Moesha" and "The Jamie Kennedy Experiment."

The growing number of sites with professional video programming follows the explosion in user-generated content on such sites as YouTube.

Big media companies also are putting more of their content online. "Right now the market is at a very early stage, but there is a demand for video content online," said analyst Sandeep Aggarwal of Oppenheimer & Co. "We see a big push in terms of people wanting a 'video break' instead of going out to Starbucks for coffee."

The professional ventures might have a better shot financially than amateur sites because advertisers want to control where their product pitches appear.

"If you are a conservative packaged-goods advertiser, you want to protect your brand," Aggarwal said.

This year, only $400 million of the ad spending on the Internet will be packaged with videos, out of a total of $21 billion for Net ads, Oppenheimer & Co. estimates. But the brokerage believes video-related advertising will grow by 80% in 2008 and at least 65% in 2009, while Internet ads as a whole will grow by only 20% a year.

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times
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