CBS' new online strategy is to court web 2.0 sites and allow their content to spread virally across social media sites. The CBS Audience Network initiative already includes deals with AOL, Microsoft, CNET Networks, Comcast, Joost, Bebo, Brightcove, Netvibes, Sling Media, Veoh, and Amazon, Apple and Yahoo. Today, CBS is adding to that list with another batch of partnerships with web 2.0 media companies. Notably, widget providers MuseStorm, Clearspring, and Goowy Media (makers of yourminis), and slideshow creation services RockYou! and Slide.As we reported,
"We now want to empower our audience to be creative and deepen their experience with our content by allowing them to share and embed CBS-provided clips to their blogs, wikis, widgets, community sites and whatever else gets thrown our way," said CBS Interactive president Quincy Smith.
The full expanded lineup for the CBS Audience Network includes Automattic (makers of WordPress), Dave Networks, Meebo, MeeVee, Ning, VideoEgg, Voxant, and vSocial. Some content is already available on select network partners, and more will be released in the next few months. All of it will be free for the consumer and supported by advertising.
Popular CBS shows like CSI will be available on the Audience Network
Two days ago, CBS announced it had acquired video blog WallStrip, confirming earlier rumors. Smith said the acquisition gave them a team of web producers who 'get' the online media landscape, which he said would be important as CBS transitions "from a content company into an audience company." It also gives the company a bona fide web celebrity in Lindsay Campbell, who I'm guessing will be used to front for the Audience Network.
Ori Soen, CEO and co-founder of new CBS partner MuseStorm, thinks their new strategy is wise. "CBS is making a smart move here," he told me, "instead of forcing people to come to CBS properties, they realize that increasingly people expect to consume content where they are, in the format they choose and at the time they choose."
Indeed, these are sentiments echoed by Smith at CBS. "We can't expect consumers to come to us," he said. "It's arrogant for any media company to assume that."
Slide, a top provider of slideshow widgets for social networks, was also among the new partners CBS announced today. The content from CBS will integrate directly with their "SkinFlix" product, which currently wraps personalized frames around YouTube videos. Though Slide won't comment on numbers for specific products, their overall service has deep penetration on social networks, reaching 50 million people every day.
Slide's CFO, Kevin Freedman told me that distributing their content across other networks has been very successful for them. "Trying to to bring your content to the users so they can personalize it has worked well for us; I think it's a good idea for others," he said.
CBS' approach makes a lot of sense. They are allowing consumers to watch content where they want to watch, rather than trying to force them to a specific site. They are also encouraging users to spread and interact with their content, via widgets and embeddable video. Embeddable content is huge, and CBS is wise to jump on board now, rather than try to fight it. It seems that CBS has realized that the media landscape is becoming more and more "on demand," and they are trying to transition smoothly into that future. What do you think? Will CBS' online strategy pay off?