NEW YORK HBO has agreed to take a financial stake in the Will Ferrell-backed comedy Web site Funny or Die, which as part of the new deal will serve as a pipeline for original programming.
The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. But Funny or Die has committed to supply the pay cable network with at least 10 hours of original content, said officials.
Of course, Funny or Die, founded by Ferrell along with comedy writing and directing veterans Adam McKay and Chris Henchy, soared to meteoric success with the 2007 release of "The Landlord," a short video which featured McKay's daughter as a caustic landlord demanding rent from a fearful Ferrell. The site has since seen its traffic level off but has continued to produce a regular slate of comedy videos featuring talent ranging from Danny DeVito to Desperate Housewives' Eva Longoria.
HBO executives believe that the site's bite-size, often edgy clips will translate well to a bigger screen. "This groundbreaking deal brings the innovative spirit of Funny or Die into the television medium," said Michael Lombardo, HBO's president, programming group and West Coast operations. "With HBO's long tradition of great comedy, this partnership makes perfect sense."
The pact with Funny or Die is not HBO's first venture into the increasingly crowded world of Web comedy. Back in 2006, HBO and Time Warner sibling AOL partnered to launch the comedy news site This Just In, which was shuttered last year.