CBS Shows Off Web 2.0 Chops


LAS VEGAS, CES — CBS CEO Leslie Moonves’ keynote at CES managed to squeeze in more Web 2.0 buzz words, and viral videos references than I’ve heard all week — the Numa Numa kid, diet coke and mentos, Second Life, YouTube, wikis, avatars, mashups. Well, CBS has been proactive recently in embracing new media, Internet communities, and mobile services, and it was pretty endearing listening to Moonves joke about the Chenbot video, a viral video of his wife’s favorite catch phrase crutch (Julie Chen outed as stiff and repetitive? truly shocking).

CBS also announced a contest with YouTube that will bring user-generated videos to the Super Bowl commercials show, and said it was beta-testing new video clip-sharing software from Sling Media. All very Web 2.0 for the big-eye network.

Moonves did a good job of convincing the audience that this trend would continue at CBS. “We have to listen to what these communities are talking about. The music business suffered a lot by not listening. . . those who don’t get in front of the parade, end up behind it, especially with ten ton gorillas like Google and Microsoft holding the baton.”

To drive down the point that CBS is really on the forefront of social media, Moonves paraded the network’s young star players throughout the keynote, including Brian Bedol, the founder of CSTV, College Sports Television, a virtual sports bar for college sports fans; the radio duo Opie and Anthony who work with Paltalk, an online chat service; Jennifer Beals and Ilene Chaiken of the L Word who are working on a gay social network called Ourchart for CBS – Moonves says to bloggers “go easy on it, remember it’s in beta;” and then the Valley boys Philip Rosedale from Second Life and of course Chad Hurley from YouTube.

Sling Media’s Blake Krikorian also showed off new software called Clip n Sling, where users clip a video, even small or short bits, and send to a friend “in 60 seconds.” The video really gets sent to a central site, and then the friend receives an email with a link to that site. CBS is beta testing the software with Sling, though it can be used for any video.

All interesting stuff, though there’s always that aura of phoniness when a network tries so hard to embrace ‘what the kids are doing.’ Still, if it means more Top 10 lists on YouTube, it’s not all bad.

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