Smith looking for complementary online content

CBS hasn’t nixed the idea of eventually joining News Corp. and NBC’s new Hulu online video site — but if there’s any movement on such a deal, the Eye isn’t talking.

That’s the word from CBS Interactive prexy Quincy Smith, who met with reporters Tuesday on the eve of Hulu’s launch. Smith recently completed his first full year at the Eye, and brought along several of his lieutenants to tout some of his division’s own initiatives.

Since CBS launched its Audience Network last September, users have accessed 193 million video streams, be it via CBS.com or one of its 191 partners. In February, CBS experienced 44 million video views.

According to CBS, the Eye’s website is tops among all nets when it comes to total video minutes. CBS Audience Network’s ad inventory is sold out, Smith noted, and its $20-plus CPMs are higher than broadcast — although those numbers will decline as the audience base grows.

CBS Interactive is also spending more time developing social networking tools, to take advantage of fan bases on popular skeins such as “Survivor” as well as shows that weren’t hits but which harbor a large online cult following, like “Kid Nation.”

In doing so, Smith said he’s looking for “the holy grail” — online use that’s “complementary, not cannibalistic” to the on-air content.

As for Hulu — which launches without programming from major suppliers like Disney or CBS, Smith echoed his earlier comments that CBS Interactive is “constantly talking to Hulu” but that “we don’t discuss any negotiations.”

“We want them to be successful,” Smith said.

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