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Yahoo! preps online comedy net

Yahoo! is gearing up to launch an online comedy channel offering exclusive shorts, original programming and licensed content from sponsors.

The Yahoo! Comedy Channel will launch in February with a free broadcast of American stand-up comedian Bill Maher’s show CrazyStupidPolitics live from the San Jose Performing Arts Centre.

The web firm said more content will follow in the spring, such as First Dates With Toby Harris, a series staring Seth Morris that will be produced by Will Ferrell-backed online comedy destination Funny or Die.

Other shows include 7 Minutes in Heaven, a Broadway Video production hosted by Saturday Night Live lead writer Mike O’Brien, and Sketchy, a weekly series of topical comedy shorts created by Ben Silverman’s Electus and Principato-Young Entertainment.

The channel will be available on Yahoo!’s recently launched Yahoo! Screen portal, which is currently still in beta. The portal was announced in October, along with a slate of eight new original shows aimed at women.

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“Like the female slate, the Yahoo! Comedy Channel will provide marketers with a huge opportunity to align their brand with world-class content,” said Yahoo! “Progressive Insurance has already signed on as a launch sponsor.”

The news comes as Yahoo!7 – a joint venture between Yahoo! and Seven West Media Group – launched a new social TV app called Fango in Australia. Produced in partnership with US-based audience participation specialists Loyalize, the companion app is designed to let users connect iPhones and iPads with their favourite TV shows.

This will initially work with selected Channel 7 programmes and from February will interact with all free-to-air primetime TV programmes and major sporting events from Network Seven and other Aussie channels.

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