'Unit,' 'Class' added to online offer

CBS has struck a deal with 20th Century Fox TV and Warner Bros. to stream episodes of shows including “The Unit” and “The Class” online in a bid to build the audience for the skeins.

Shows produced by the two studios will appear on CBS broadband channel Innertube as part of a four-week promotion starting next month.

The shows include 20th Century Fox Television’s “How I Met Your Mother,” “Shark” and “The Unit” and Warner Bros.’ “The Class,” “Old Christine” and “Smith.”

Four-week deal is notable because CBS was able to gain access to shows owned by other studios — leaping a hurdle that has prevented networks from streaming shows in the past.

Each of the first four episodes of the shows will be available for a week after initial broadcast.

“Streaming episodes on Innertube creates more opportunities for audiences to discover our new and returning series at a critical time of the year when audiences are settling into their viewing patterns,” CBS Television prexy Nancy Tellem said.

The shows will join a host of other CBS-owned series on Innertube this fall, such as all three iterations of “CSI” as well as “Jericho,” “NCIS,” “Numbers” and “Survivor.”

As a result of initiatives including network talks with local stations and the Hollywood studios, the 2006-07 TV season is shaping up as the first in which significant numbers of firstrun shows will be made available on a format outside of TV.

With deals in place and the blessing of local affiliates, the networks are now trying to use every possible avenue to build audiences in the fall.

CBS announced it is using billboard division CBS Outdoor to market shows to mobile-phone users. Technology in billboards in Gotham’s Grand Central Station will enable mobile users to download clips of new and returning shows to their cell phones and then pass them along to others.

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