CBS Launches ‘innertube’ Broadband Video Network

CBS has launched “innertube,” an ad-supported broadband channel of original Web content, companion shows to CBS’ TV shows, and rebroadcasts of past TV fare.

No made-for-TV shows will be in the launch lineup, but once CBS works out an agreement with its network affiliates that will change, said Nancy Tellem, president of the CBS Paramount Network Television Entertainment Group, in a conference call.

In addition to “encore” broadcasts of current shows, CBS plans to stream programs that had smaller followings that couldn’t support their placement on network TV, such as “Love Monkey.” The network hopes to add material from the CBS and Paramount libraries including “I Love Lucy” and “The Brady Bunch.”

Original Internet programs will include reality shows, musical performance, entertainment magazine and talk shows, sketch comedy, and animation. Some shows will be companions to CBS’ network TV brands, including “Survivor” and “Big Brother.”

innertube ads will be sold separately, though many advertisers currently buying TV spots have purchased ads on the Web property. Inventory will be made available at the upfront, according to Larry Kramer, president of CBS Digital Media.

“Every discussion we have with major advertisers includes interactive opportunities. Advertisers are looking for 360 degree coverage, and so are we,” Kramer said. Ad units will include :15 and :30 in-stream spots with display ads alongside, mostly priced as CPM buys, Kramer said.

Ads that aired when the shows were first broadcast will be stripped out and replaced with new ones sold specifically for innertube. CBS expects advertisers who are hungry for online video ad inventory, but wary of user-generated content, to jump at the chance to place ads with a more traditional provider.

“Major advertisers are very concerned about the kind of video content available to them on the Web. It’s very difficult for some advertisers to feel comfortable about wrapping their content around user-generated content,” Kramer said. “This is the kind of content that advertisers like to grab onto; they have a confidence level in it.”

CBS expects to draw some of its existing TV audience to the online shows. More important, it hopes to attract a new, more tech-savvy, and younger audience to innertube. They may then begin watching more CBS’s TV programming as well, Kramer noted.

This is the latest of many online initiatives CBS has undertaken in the past year, when the network formed its interactive division and hired MarketWatch founder Kramer to head the unit. The division unified programming and ad sales for CBS.com, CBS SportsLine.com, and CBSNews.com.

CBS Digital Media began by launching “The Eyebox,” a video and banner ad offering across its sites. In September, CBS-owned UPN teamed with Google to stream its “Everybody Hates Chris” premiere. In October, CBS began offering audio podcasts of select shows on iTunes, a move that was quickly followed by competitors including ABC, NBC Universal, The Sci-Fi Channel, USA Network and Disney. In January, CBS once again experimented with streaming complete episodes of its shows, this time on Yahoo.

Most recently, CBS had great success with its ad-supported Webcasts of college basketball’s March Madness.

Earlier this year, AOL launched In2TV, a broadband video network featuring episodes of its classic TV series, monetized by :15 and :30 video ads.

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