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CBS goes it alone

CBS said this week it will sell episodes of its popular "Survivor" show online. That's not exactly exciting, given that everything from "The Office" to "Dragnet" is now available through the iTunes store. The big story in CBS's announcement is that it will sell the shows itself, bypassing any middleman.


CBS had a deal with Google Video to sell TV shows (and it's still selling its "CSI" show there), but decided to go it alone for "Survivor" because the company is hoping to bring the revenue stream closer to home.

The deal "represents a great way to generate traffic for while opening a whole new revenue stream for CBS," CEO Leslie Moonves said in a statement.

Bloggers thought the network could be making a mistake, saying the CBS Web site doesn't have the name recognition as a video store to draw in traffic. They also slammed the copy protection on the downloads, which are only available for a 24-hour period after payment.

Blog community response:

"This is obviously an experiment for CBS, which will probably migrate all of its content to its own site if 'Survivor' becomes a success. ('CSI,' for instance, is still being sold through Google Video). If it doesn't work out, you can bet CBS will either return on bended knee to Google or seek another suitor—or both."
--Ars Technica

"While folks may know the letters CSI, I'd bet that few know or care that it is actually on the CBS network. As far as brand goes, more people are likely familiar with HBO and MTV, than they are with CBS, except as the network that Howard Stern used to work for."
--Larry Borsato

"CBS should forget about exclusivity (which doesn't really work online anyway), make their content ubiquitous, and support any and all business models their distributors see fit. Put the content out there, and let people pay for it in the way they choose, whether it's through advertising, subscriptions or purchase. If people aren't satisfied with the current distribution channels, they'll turn to other ones to get what they want--ones in which CBS and its brethren have no stake and receive no benefit."