MTV Networks plans to make every clip from every episode of hit animated comedy “South Park” available for free online next year as part of a strategy to reach consumers everywhere. The decision from the biggest division of media conglomerate Viacom Inc follows on the heels of the “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” whose popularity online has helped boost television viewership. MTV Networks’s Comedy Central network began offering in October some 13,000 “Daily Show” videos dating back to 1999. Offering versions of TV shows online has not hurt television ratings, and may have actually helped. “One does not diminish the other by any stretch of the imagination. That is kind of our hat trick,” MTV Networks Chairman and Chief Executive Judy McGrath said at the Reuters Media Summit in New York on Wednesday.
In August, Comedy Central signed an extension of a deal with “South Park” creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker, and agreed to create a new joint venture to spread “South Park” materials across the Web, on mobile phones and video games. Other shows from the 20-year archives of MTV Networks could also get the same online treatment, but executives stopped short of naming other properties. The Daily Show’ was the first out of the gate and it’s been a big success and it’s a nice little model for us to follow,” said Mika Salmi, MTV Networks president of global digital media. “There’s no limit to which shows we can use at this stage.” Once criticized for moving slowly to establish itself online, MTV Networks has aggressively expanded its digital media presence over the past year by building new Web sites and communities on the Internet and over cellphones globally. It’s good to finally see some progress.