Internet yak attracts Eye

Spin-off 'House' links web to primetime

CBS.com is launching a live Internet-based talkshow strip tied to the Eye net’s hit summer reality skein “Big Brother.”

Dubbed “House Calls: The Big Brother Talk Show,” the Monday-Friday half-hour gabber is believed to be the first time a broadcast net has produced a live web talkshow linked to a primetime skein.

It’s also one of the earliest examples of newfound cooperation between the Eye and sister radio conglom Infinity since Leslie Moonves assumed control of both: Skein will be co-hosted by Gretchen Massey of Infinity’s L.A. rock station KLSX.

Marcellas Reynolds, a “Big Brother 3” contestant, will join Massey as co-host for the skein, which will webcast live from CBS Television City each day at 1 p.m. EDT/ 10 a.m. PDT.

Hosted by Julie Chen, “Big Brother” is already a web pioneer of sorts, with CBS generating seven-figure revenue from selling more than 120,000 viewers subscriptions to 24/7 streaming feeds from inside the “BB” house over the past two years.

” ‘Big Brother’ has been the model for convergence between the Internet and television and this programming takes it one step further,” said David Katz, senior veep of strategic planning and interactive ventures for CBS.

While bare bones by broadcast standards, Katz said “House Calls” will be at the high-end of streaming webcast programming.

Reynolds and Massey will host the show from a small studio in TV City, with a single camera capturing their interaction. Each episode will feature commentary on both the TV show and the web streams, with the hosts taking calls and answering e-mails from viewers.

“We’re going to bring real chat to the idea of a chat room,” Katz said. Producers, evicted houseguests and past players are also expected to stop by.

“House Calls” will start out commercial-free, but the skein will have a sponsor and within weeks will begin integrating commercials into the webcast.

Allison Grodner, who exec produces “Big Brother” with Arnold Shapiro, said she and her partner welcome the added exposure “House Calls” will bring to the thrice-weekly skein.

“The Internet has always been one of the things that makes the show unique,” Grodner told Daily Variety.

It’s no coincidence “House Calls” will air at 1 p.m. on the East Coast, Katz said. “Daytime is primetime for the Internet,” he said. “It’s when people are at work and have their fastest broadband connection to the Internet.”

CBS.com has been the No. 1 network TV Web site for more than 2 years, generating more page views than the other five broadcast nets each month since 2002. Site set a record in May, when 38 million votes were cast to determine the fan fave of “Survivor: All-Stars” and 12 million unique visitors surfed over to CBS.com.