CBS Is Pretty Damned Excited About YouTube

Just a little over a month after a partnership was announced that puts CBS content on YouTube legally, CBS Interactive President Quincy Smith is beside himself with praise for their new partner. In a press release today, YouTube says that CBS content has been viewed 29.2 million times since October 18, which is an average of 857,000 views per day. Here’s an example of a clip.

Smith says:

“Above all the other good news, what’s most exciting here is the extent to which CBS is learning about its audience as never before,” said Quincy Smith, President, CBS Interactive. “YouTube users are clearly being entertained by the CBS programming they’re watching as evidenced by the sheer number of video views. Professional content seeds YouTube and allows an open dialogue between established media players and a new set of viewers. We believe this inflection point is the precursor to many exciting developments as we continue to build bridges rather than construct walls.”

The two companies are also linking the YouTube deal to an increase in television rating for many CBS shows as well:

Ratings for the network’s late night programs, in particular, have shown notable increases. CBS’s “Late Show with David Letterman” has added 200,000 (+5%) new viewers while “The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson” is up 100,000 viewers (+7%) since the YouTube postings started. Although the success of these shows on YouTube is not the sole cause of the rise in television ratings, both companies believe that YouTube has brought a significant new audience of viewers to each broadcast.

The stats are good (about 1% of total YouTube video views), and if CBS really feels that there is a connection between the deal and television ratings, then it is certainly bodes well for YouTube. Maybe we’ll see the Daily Show back up on YouTube sometime soon.

It’s clear, though, that all of these press releases and lawsuits are chess pieces in a huge behind the scenes battle going on right now: Content owners are trying to figure out what to do and how to do it before offline television dies. YouTube, in the meantime, divides and conquers.

From what we hear, the content owners still on the sidelines are trying to create their own jointly-owned YouTube clone and license their content into it (thereby securing 100% of ad revenues). Massive litigation against YouTube would follow by these same players. But squabbling and general paralysis has stopped the discussions from moving forward.