CBS Plots New Online Strategy

Conceding the obvious, CBS says efforts to get viewers to come to its Web site to view video have been a failure. The new strategy at Black Rock is to syndicate CBS video content to the greatest possible extent, network execs told the Wall Street Journal.

Not coincidentally, CBS’s expanded content to sites from AOL to Joost, debuts this week when the networks are looking to unload as much ad inventory as possible during the kickoff of the upfront season. CBS hasn’t gained much traction online compared with the other networks, in no small part due to its older audience, which doesn’t inhabit the Internet as much as the younger set.

Who sells the ads — and keeps the biggest slice of that revenue — is very much at stake. The Yahoos of the world would like nothing more than to sell the ads against the content of CBS and the other networks. TV is happy to send over the programs, but wants almost all of the ad sales in return.

CBS will let advertisers tweak their ads to fit the 10 or so different sites in the CBS Interactive Audience Network, according to the Journal story. The internal code name for CBS’s new strategy: “Rolling Thunder.”

An also-ran in the ratings race for key demographics that advertisers will pay up for, CBS is betting the storm clouds will clear enough to bring more (and younger) viewers online, and to its broadcast shows.

The network doesn’t have a lot of other choices to monetize its content online. A Forrester report just out notes that the paid video content market is a dead end and ad-supported models will continue to gain.

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