CBS Interactive Expanding Successful Syndication Model


CBS Interactive chief Quincy Smith gave MediaPost an update on the firm’s syndication strategy, which appears to be highly successful.

  • CBS has signed up two dozen sites as distribution partners, including MSN, AOL, Google, YouTube, Veoh, Joost, and  It expects to add “400 more” in the fall, including, possibly, the “YouTube competitor” to be launched by News Corp. and NBC Universal.
  • CBS’s online reach has grown from 13% to 90%, with 134 million monthly viewers.
  • The deals are based on a 90-10 revenue-share, with CBS keeping 90% and its Internet partners 10%.
  • CBS sells the advertising for all current shows, but individual sites often handle sales for older, niche or library programming.

Unlike many traditional media folks, Smith understands the challenge of trying to build an Internet “destination” and has foregone this in favour of syndicating CBS content through dozens of other sites.  This is a rare insight in the big media world, and it has helped supercharge CBS’s interactive business.

CBS was involved in initial discussions for the News Corp. / NBC site, for example, but backed out because it disagreed with the “destination” strategy.  Specifically, CBS felt that the effort would duplicate what YouTube and others had already established and would require heavy start-up investment.  The News / NBC venture garnered significant buzz when it was announced, but we haven’t seen hide-nor-hair of it since.   Wayne Friedman, MediaPost


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