CBS to Stream Prime-time Shows Through Innertube

Move Follows ABC's Online Broadcast of First-Run Programs

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NEW YORK ( -- On-demand viewing of a prime-time network broadcast show using a digital video recorder has thrown a wrench into the traditional ebb and flow of buying and selling TV ad time, leaving the networks scrambling to find a new model. How about on-demand viewing through a broadband internet connection? Now the networks smell opportunity.
CBS shows like 'CSI' can be accessed online using the network's broadband channel, Innertube.
CBS shows like 'CSI' can be accessed online using the network's broadband channel, Innertube.

Following ABC's lead
Just weeks after ABC touted the success of its online rebroadcasts of first-run shows, CBS has followed suit and will offer several of its top prime-time shows online, through the network's broadband channel, Innertube. The network will offer up "CSI," "CSI: Miami," "CSI: NY," "NCIS," "Survivor" and "Numb3rs," along with newcomer "Jericho."

CBS Digital President Larry Kramer said the shows were chosen because the network has the most control over them, having either produced or co-produced them. He said he would like to have more shows on Innertube soon.

Like ABC's offering, the shows feature limited commercials, probably three 30-second spots per show, Mr. Kramer said. Some will be Ultramercial spots, which require users to click on them to get back to the program. And the network is looking at other options down the road, including one where advertisers will be able to target their ads to a particular subset of people, and a model in which users can pick the advertisers they want to hear from during the episode.

Additionally, there will be ad opportunities for ads around the video, such as in the player. CBS Digital Media began visiting agencies to sell the offering yesterday.

User controls
On the user end, viewers will be able to pause and bookmark shows so they can come back later to watch them. CBS also borrowed some tricks from Sportsline's March Madness on Demand success, including a "boss button" that when pushed brings up a spreadsheet onto the screen to hide the video. (Unlike March Madness on Demand, viewers won't be required to register, at least at first.)

The trick to being able to repackage on-demand shows online was an agreement CBS came to with its affiliates in early summer, Mr. Kramer said. The deal allows the network and its affiliates to share revenue from digitally distributed programs.

"Everybody's doing tests and we really wanted to work with our affiliates and took the extra time that came to an agreement and allowed for this," he said. "Once you get to end of season it's easier to wait for new season."
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