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CBS looks to ‘book ’em’ online with classic shows

Posted by Mort Greenberg on February 25, 2008

CBS looks to ‘book ’em’ online with classic shows   By David B. Wilkerson, MarketWatch Last Update: 8:15 PM ET Feb 22, 2008  CHICAGO (MarketWatch) — To a lot of younger TV viewers, “five-O” might be best known as a slang term for the police, but CBS Interactive is hoping they’ll find reason to become familiar with the long-running crime drama, as well as other parts of the vast CBS and Paramount television library.  “Generally speaking there are younger demographics online, and we have to hit them with everything we’ve got,” said Quincy Smith, president of CBS Interactive, in an interview. “We are absolutely using this to go out and find new eyeballs who might not otherwise have seen this.” CBS (CBS: news) said this week that it plans to add full, streamed episodes of five classic CBS-Paramount television series to and the CBS Audience Network, including “Hawaii Five-O,” “Star Trek” and “The Twilight Zone,” as well as “MacGyver” and “Melrose Place.” The CBS Audience Network includes more than 300 Web sites, including AOL, Bebo, Comcast, Joost, MSN and Veoh, as well as social-networking partners such as YouTube, Meebo, MeeVee, RockYou, VideoEgg, Voxant and others.  The Tiffany network’s retro move came a day after NBC Universal (GE: news) made complete streamed episodes of such vintage programs as “The Alfred Hitchcock Hour,” “Emergency,” “Kojak” and “Night Gallery” available at, and other entertainment sites.  Under Smith, CBS has been determined to make its programming available on as many Web sites as possible, rather than trying to confine viewers to or other CBS-owned sites. “Our strategy has always been open, nonexclusive syndication from a streaming perspective. … The difference is that now a lot of media companies are adopting it, because it’s a great model.” Smith said that with data available from so many sites, and by taking cues from other media, CBS Interactive can try to take advantage of the Web’s ability to create communities around a particular group’s common interests.  “People who watch ‘Jericho’ might also like ‘Star Trek,'” according to Smith. “We pay attention to DVD sales, to broadcast requests through Nielsen and also to online information. We know from discussions on YouTube that people who like this also like that. … On Facebook, people who join the ‘How I Met Your Mother’ group also like stuff on ‘Big Bang Theory.'” The company’s LastFM social-networking music site includes a recommendation engine, which suggests music choices to listeners based on what they’ve already heard. “We absolutely have to apply that to video as well,” Smith commented.  In the modern online-video universe, advertisers are anxious to reach Web-based viewers, but want to make sure their messages will be seen in a context where there isn’t copyright infringement or indecent content. The big media companies want to take advantage of this demand. CBS Interactive has attracted such large national advertisers as Procter & Gamble, General Motors, Verizon and Sprint. “About six months ago, we made the conscious decision to tuck interactive sales under CBS network sales, and also report to CBS Interactive. And that’s because the conversations are starting at the network level, but clients want to buy across platforms,” Smith said. Some data have suggested that some Web viewers are very sensitive to in-stream video advertising as seen in shorter clips, but it’s not known what the implications are for longer-form content such as TV shows.  Smith declined specific comment on what CBS Interactive has learned in this regard. “Although I have to say, it’s fairly intuitive. In this environment where consumers have more control of what they want to see at all times, they have very stated preferences, and we have to listen to that, as well as the [ad] agencies.”  David B. Wilkerson is a reporter for MarketWatch in Chicago. 


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