US TV network CBS is to launch an online video sharing website where viewers will be able to watch popular shows such as crime drama CSI and talk show Late Night with David Letterman, as well as news and sports programming. CBS has teamed up with 10 online distributors, including Joost , Microsoft and Time Warner to deliver the content.
The TV programming that will be available on the CBS Interactive Audience Network in the next few weeks will be free but supported by advertising. The proceeds from advertising will be split between CBS and its partners. Hundreds of hours of archived programming from the CBS video library will also be made available.
Other companies involved in the CBS deal are Sling Media, Brightcove, ComCast and AOL, as well as social networking sites such as Bebo. CBS already distributes many of its TV shows online through Yahoo, Amazon and Apple's iTunes Store, in addition to its own website.
"We don't want to be exclusive with anybody, because nobody should expect a content company to be," CBS Interactive president Quincy Smith told Reuters . "I don't think the world needs another portal."
The deals will transform CBS "from a content company to an audience company", Smith said in a statement . He said the main benefits for viewers are that they can watch the content without being restricted to a particular platform.
The deal is a significant milestone for newcomer Joost, which is still in beta stage. CBS is the first broadcast network that Joost has signed a deal with, following its deal with Viacom earlier this year. Apart from TV content, the partnership also includes plugins such as instant messaging.
This new deal is the latest in a line of similar deals from companies hoping to take on video-sharing websites such as Google 's YouTube in a bid to combat unauthorised viewing of copyrighted programming.
Last month, News Corporation and NBC Universal announced they were teaming up to launch a new online channel to challenge YouTube. CBS is in talks with the News Corp/NBC coalition for distributing its shows, Smith said.
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