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CBS Will Have Full Slate of Web Video on the iPad

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CBS (s CBS) may have the most aggressive plans to enable viewers to watch web video on the iPad, but so far, that’s all they are — plans. The broadcaster has made only a limited number of promotional clips available for viewing on the tablet device, along with one full-length episode of Survivor. But Anthony Soohoo, senior VP and general manager of CBS Interactive, told us that by the start of the fall season it plans to have all the same video available on the Apple (s AAPL) iPad that is available on

Unlike ABC (s DIS), which built an iPad app to deliver its full-length episodes and promotional clips on the device, CBS decided to focus on delivering video through its website, Since the Apple tablet doesn’t support Adobe (s ADBE) Flash, CBS has created a video site for the iPad through HTML5 instead. It’s still early days, but Soohoo expects CBS to deploy more and more video that is iPad-ready, until it reaches content parity with what’s available on the website through a PC.

As for why CBS decided to go with a web video strategy, rather than an app strategy, Soohoo said, “When we were looking at the iPad as a separate device, it had a lot more similarities to a PC in our mind…So for us, we wanted to make sure that video was available through HTML5 on the iPad first.”

While the iPad will have content parity in the fall, the web page that is delivered on the device may have some key differences, in navigation and advertising that can be deployed on the tablet. “There are some interesting elements to the iPad, such as the idea of a user navigating the site with their fingers versus doing a mouse click, so that might lend itself to doing some interesting advertising programs, and that’s something that we’re learning about and looking into right now,” Soohoo said.

At the same time, HTML5 still has a long way to go to catch up with Flash, in terms of the tools that are available for measurement, advertising and encryption. Noting that Flash has a five-year head start on HTML5, Soohoo believes HTML5 will at some point reach parity in terms of the tools that are available — “It’s certainly not completely there yet,” Soohoo said — but the broadcaster will continue to develop for HTML5 and the iPad.

You can watch the full video interview below:

Photo of CBS building courtesy of Flickr user Sarah_Ackerman.

Related content on GigaOM Pro: How iAd and the iPad Will Change Mobile Marketing (subscription required)

95 Responses to “CBS Will Have Full Slate of Web Video on the iPad”

  1. Jessica, that’s the thing there isn’t a solution and if one is implemented we are likely many years if it ever happens. It certainly won’t be ready by this fall, in which case CBS will be giving away their content for free.

  2. Randy Abramson

    Any idea on how they will serve ads and track video on the iPad? I was led to believe that ad serving and tracking was not yet possible on the iPad (except for a couple of smaller companies out there that provide ad serving solutions).

    • Ryan Lawler

      It’s my understanding that there are already some technologies available for dynamic ad insertion on the iPad, but they’re not as mature as what is available for Flash, and a lot of these things are point solutions. Reporting, from what I’ve heard, has a long way to go to reach parity with Flash. So right now, anyone who does HTML5 video is more in experimentation mode, doing it just to get the content out there. There will be some monetization of HTML5 web video, but it’ll be difficult to track.

  3. Surprised no one has asked CBS about piracy and HTML5 video. Without protecting content inside an app, it’s very easy for people to download the video source files straight from

    I’m not sure there will ever be protection mechanisms to block users from saving or caching the files the same way it’s currently built into the Flash Player. As the browser vendors would all have to agree on a method and they can’t even agree on the same codec. Also making such a method open source for browsers like Chrome and Firefox, might mean people could use that code to create tools pretend they are a browser and download the video files.

    • Janey

      Or maybe they wised up and realized that “piracy” of TV shows isn’t really even an issue.. at all. You can’t really “pirate” something that is broadcast over open airwaves in HD. No different than people with a Tivo or a VCR. Who cares if they pretend they’re a browser and download the file? No different than plugging in an antenna and using video capture software. That stuff has been around for ages.