When it comes to Web video, CBS has been one of the most promiscuous media companies out there. And no, I am not talking about its $1.8 billion acquisition of CNET (which does have some video assets). Rather, CBS has taken a strategy of superdistribution when it comes to spreading its videos across the Web. It wants its videos everywhere. Thus CBS has struck distribution deals with more than 300 sites—including YouTube, AOL, MSN, Joost, Veoh, Bebo,and TVGuide.com. These are collectively lumped together into the CBS Audience Network, against which CBS sells its own ads.
Now the CBS Audience Network also has its own site, where it highlights its top partners and the most popular CBS videos on each of them. You can see how many times each video has been watched and the number of comments for each one. (An iPhone demo and a Borat interview on Letterman are the two most popular, with 8.9 million and 5.7 million views, respectively). Right now, though, only the top videos from YouTube are visible. But it looks like AOL, Bebo, MSN, TV.com, and Joost will be coming soon.
It is not clear how appealing a destination the site will become for consumers, although you can watch the videos without leaving. It feels to me more like a site that CBS is putting up for the benefit of advertisers, almost as brochureware so that they can easily see at a glance CBS’s video reach across the Web. Superdistribution (which basically means putting your content everywhere) sounds good in theory, but perhaps it is not such an easy sell to advertisers who like to see exactly what they are buying.