CBS gets the silent treatment

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CBS is quite happy with its director channel on YouTube. So happy that it sent out a press release touting the fact that the 300-plus clips the company has uploaded to the video-sharing site have garnered 29.2 million views. What makes CBS even happier is the viewers who have come to its late-night shows since the YouTube CBS channel debuted Oct. 18. "Late Night With David Letterman" and "The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson" each got a nice bump in viewers last month (200,000 and 100,000 respectively)-and those increases just so happened to coincide with clips of both shows getting pretty good play on YouTube.

Quincy Smith, president of CBS Interactive, said in the release: "Professional content seeds YouTube and allows an open dialogue between established media players and a new set of viewers. We believe this inflection point is the precursor to many exciting developments as we continue to build bridges rather than construct walls."

It's true that CBS clips get featured regularly in the sponsor slot on the home page, and both David Letterman and Craig Ferguson are showing up an awful lot more on the "Most Viewed" page. (That could also be due, in part, to the absence of Comedy Central's "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" and "The Colbert Report," which parent Viacom has pulled off the site.) But many of the clips don't seem to engender much chatter. Even one of last week's most-viewed clips, "Richards Simmons Exploding Steamer" from the David Letterman show, had no comments at the time this was written. A steady YouTube contributor named Lisa Nova, who posts updates on her fictitious singing career, posted "Lisa Nova's Life Is About to Change & So Can Yours" seven hours before the Simmons clip went up, and that video had already received 491 comments.

The odd part about this is that users routinely comment when other users upload clips from shows; the audience acts as a filter for the best bits worth sharing-and the ones getting yanked down as fast as YouTube and parent Google can get them off. CBS is now the one telling us what's funny, but it seems people are more inclined to join in the conversation when their friends are already laughing.
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