Why CraveTV didn’t have a problem with Letterkenny

As production starts on Bell Media's adaptation of Jared Keeso's Letterkenny Problems, Mike Cosentino and New Metric Media discuss translating the web series for TV(ish).
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With its first original series on CraveTV, Bell Media is looking to translate a successful sketch-based web series into an episodic on-demand comedy hit.

Letterkenny, a six-part comedy series based on Letterkenny Problems, was created by 19-2 star Jared Keeso and co-commissioned between CraveTV and The Comedy Network.

The 6 x 30-minute series, produced by Toronto’s New Metric Media, went into production earlier this week in Sudbury.

As well as co-writing the show, Keeso also executive produces and stars alongside Michelle Mylett, Dylan Playfair, Andrew Herr, Nathan Dales, Tyler Johnston, Lisa Codrington, Jacob Tierney, Alexander De Jordy and K Trevor Wilson.

The show follows Wayne (played by Keeso) as he tries to protect the wholesome rural values of his Northern Ontario hometown while butting up against the stereotypical bros of a small town: namely, “The Hicks,” “The Skids,” and “The Hockey Players.”

The long-form version of Letterkenny picks up where the web series leaves off, but adds a number of new characters, fleshes out existing ones, and shifts the focus from sketch-based comedy to a more traditional story arc, Mark Montefiore, co-president at New Metric told Playback Daily.

The essence of the web series will remain, but with more emphasis on a continuous narrative, notes Patrick O’Sullivan, co-president, New Metric Media.

CraveTV’s strategy was not specifically to have a comedy kick off its original programming strategy, explains Mike Cosentino, SVP, programming, CTV Networks and CraveTV, but a combination of factors such as comedy over-indexing with viewers on CraveTV, a great pitch, and proof of concept (Letterkenny Problems) led to it’s greenlight.

Bell Media also saw an opportunity to cross-promote the series via linear television, given its suitability for The Comedy Network.

“We think there’s a lot of transferable appetite between viewers who watch The Big Bang Theory. And we will look to tap into that audience and other comedy audiences on CTV and also leverage The Comedy Network’s audiences to promote Letterkenny as available on Crave,” said Cosentino.

Montefiore says he also hopes the addition of more female characters will expand Letterkenny‘s audience, which until this point has been predominantly male.

The show is tentatively scheduled for broadcast and streaming in early 2016.