MTV playing it for laughs in the Middle East

MTV is opening a production hub in Abu Dhabi to produce comedy content for the region’s broadcasters. MTV Networks International’s Emerging Markets unit has formed a strategic alliance with Abu Dhabi-based media hub twofour54 and Comedy Central Studios Arabia will be up and running by the end of the year.

“There is very little that showcases Arab comedy talent in Arabic,” Bhavneet Singh, managing director and executive VP, Emerging Markets, MTVNI, told TBIvision. “There is some content in English, but we did some research and found that there was a big gap and spoke to broadcasters and they are dying to get this kind of content.”

Singh has overseen the launch of MTV and Nickelodeon channels in the Middle East, but said that the studio launch is not immediately clearing the way for a Comedy Central channel launch. “Right now we’re completely focused on the opportunity to create an Arabic comedy content industry. If we can do that we might have Comedy Central blocks or a channel, but that’s not the focus now.”

The studio will produce stand-up, sketch show, sitcom and all other types of comedy programming. Singh said the unit will also look at reversioning existing Comedy Central formats for the Middle East.