CBS Vs NBC Web Strategy: Short Clips Vs. Whole Shows


CBS will start making mashups of its own shows and distributing the short clips on the Web, the WSJ reports ($). It’s a small, sensible project: The “EyeLab” group will consist of six 20-somethings who will assemble segments made from CBS shows and outtakes. Recycling expensive content is a no-lose experiment for the network.

Our question: Whose audience research should we believe? CBS’ Quincy Smith tells the Journal that he’s playing with EyeLab because less than a third of the network’s Web audience wants to watch full-length shows online. But on Monday, NBC’s George Kliavkoff told an OMMA audience that people love to watch TV on the Web. About 80% of viewers who started watching NBC shows online stuck it out till the end, he said.

It’s possible that both sets of data can co-exist harmoniously: Perhaps most people don’t want to watch full shows on the Web — but those that do are really committed to the notion. More likely explanation: The two data sets represent different corporate mindsets.

NBC is spending a lot of time, money and corporate clout trying to trying to figure out how to distribute its shows online  — see Hulu, Amazon, iTunes dustup, etc. But this seems a lot less important to CBS right now. Earlier this month, for instance, Les Moonves said that he didn’t really care that much about the NBC/Apple iTunes dispute, because iTunes was at best a promotional outlet for his shows. And he described YouTube the same way — as an online outlet that could promote CBS’ broadcast business: “When you see a clip of CSI on YouTube, that’s good for us. That’s only good for us.” WSJ

Related: NBC Digital Exec George Kliavkoff Defends Hulu
CBS’ Moonves At Merrill Media Conference