CW’s Online Video Play: Viewsers

A little late out of the gate, the CW network has joined the slew of other TV networks and jumped into that hottest of new things: internet video. The network’s reality show, with the working title of Viewsers, would tap the best of viral video from a variety of websites, blogs, and user-generated material for a broadcast show, according to Broadcasting & Cable. It’ll essentially be Videosift in your living room.

CW, co-owned by CBS Paramount and Time Warner, has teamed up David Hurwitz (Fear Factor) and Paul Cockerhill (Trigger Happy TV and Jimmy Kimmel Live) to bring you the best of YouTube. A good bit of irony, eh?

Where CW hopes to differentiate itself is through connecting viewers to talk to each other and communicate live on the air. It’s like a comments board, but on TV!

CW is also bringing user video straight into advertisers’ spots (what with product placement being the latest trend in online video), hoping to build on its success with sponsors playing roles in its regular broadcast shows.

One of the first of these ad campaigns will be the “Oreo lick competition,” which sounds kinky. After view(s)ers submit videos of themselves, well, licking Oreos, the competition will culminate in the two web-selected finalists competing on-air for $50,000 for charity during episodes of Gilmore Girls and Pussycat Dolls. (For those who aren’t familiar with CW’s lineup, Gilmore Girls is a heart warming show of a single mother raising her Ivy-League daughter/best friend where Pussycat Dolls is a reality show about burlesque dancers.)

Interestingly, it has been Viacom-owned Nickelodeon and VH1 that have had the most success in pulling viral sensations on to the airwaves. Nick’s two-hour My:TV and VH1’s Web Junk 20 have both had success in rehashing web sensations. VH1’s newest venture, Jack Black’s Acceptable.TV, seeks to mix the best of TV and the internet in one synergistic show of Jack Blackness. Other old-new media hybrid projects — like NBCU and Break, Bochco and Metacafe, Vuguru’s “Prom Queen,” are destined for the computer screen only.

Not to be outdone by bounties from the networks, announced today it will be upping and expanding its cash prize offerings. The video aggregator is offering a $25,000 prize on the next viral sensation, a bit of a different strategy from those employed by competitor sites like Revver, Metacafe, and Break.

And the race is on to see who will be able to tame this raging cash cow of internet videos. Only the fickle internet audience can say who wins. In the meantime, let’s see if we can find some paparazzi videos of Britney wailing on an SUV with an umbrella!