HBO is investing in FunnyOrDie, the comedy site founded by Will Ferrell and backed by Sequoia Capital. Variety says the stake is less than 10%, but doesn’t peg a dollar value to the investment; FunnyOrDie raised a $15 million second round of funding late last year at a $100 million valuation.
What does HBO get for its money? To start, five hours of programming produced by Ferrell & Co. that will air on the pay channel. But the two are also partnering on a number of other projects, including a live comedy tour.
We have our doubts about the concept of FunnyOrDie, a site that depends on occassional hits delivered by stars like Ferrell. “The Landlord” has been viewed more than 57 million times on FunnyOrDie; nothing since then has been nearly as popular. Either way, working with HBO seems like a good deal for Ferrell, if for nothing else than the promotion and the revenue.
As NBC has figured out with “Saturday Night Live,” comedy shorts do work on the Web. But the video sites growing faster than FunnyOrDie are doing it with a steady diet of super-cheap, silly video, such as Break.com and Metacafe.com. HBO tried its own hand at a comedy site, This Just In, which it shuttered last August.
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