CBS forms online video-sharing network

Users can share clips, full-length features for free. Partners include both established and fledgling platforms.

CBS unveiled a video distribution network on Thursday that will allow users to share clips and full-length content for free.

The broadcaster announced partnerships with a variety of online properties and video-sharing sites, including Brightcove, Joost, Veoh Networks, Sling Media, AOL, Microsoft and CNET Networks (publisher of News.com).

There will be a rotating list of CBS shows, such as CSI, Late Show with David Letterman, Survivor and CBS Evening News with Katie Couric, as well as some sports programming, available for sharing and viewing.

"Why join exclusively with other media peers when you can actually remain independent?"
--Quincy Smith, president, CBS Interactive

All content will be free to watch and supported by ads.

CBS said none of the deals are exclusive. "From a traditional media company's perspective, the object is to put your content on as many next-generation platforms as you can," said Quincy Smith, president of CBS Interactive. "I'd hope that all media companies work this way."

Just last month, News Corp. and NBC announced an agreement with AOL, MSN and Yahoo to distribute clips, full-length TV shows and films online. The new network was largely seen as an attempt to challenge the Web's most popular video-sharing site, YouTube.

CBS, which also partners with YouTube, is not looking to form another video portal, Smith said.

"We do think the world of the (NBC and News Corp.) joint venture, (but) we've always said, 'Why join exclusively with other media peers when you can actually remain independent?'" Smith said.

Several of the partner video sites are just beginning to build their professional content portfolios. The choice to go with unproven platforms like Joost and Sling, which aren't even live yet, demonstrates the "flexibility" of the partnership to make independent decisions and not have to wait for a committee to vote, according to Smith.

Joost is the online-video start-up from the creators of Skype and Kazaa. In February, it signed a content-licensing deal with Viacom. The CBS agreement will allow Joost users to watch programming integrated with the site's instant-messaging and other plug-in applications. CBS is also hoping to attract the largely international audience Joost will bring from its connection with Skype and Kazaa.

Sling Media, known mostly for its Slingbox, a device that delivers television programming over the Web to a smart phone or PC, first revealed the CBS partnership at the Consumer Electronics Show in January. Sling's forthcoming Clip + Sling video site will allow users to share clips of CBS shows with both current and non-Slingbox users, and allow each the option of viewing the entire program from which the clip was taken.

Brightcove will let users share CBS content, comment on it and use tools available on the site to edit clips.

CBS programming will also be available on major video portals such as AOL and MSN in long and short form. AOL users will be able to read about a CBS show and link directly to an episode without leaving the site.

Comcast and TV.com (owned by CNET Networks) will also feature some CBS programming on their sites.

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