CBS Laughs All the Way to the Bank with YouTube Conan Clips

Last Updated May 4, 2010 2:07 PM EDT

Here's an angle you weren't expecting concerning Conan O'Brien's interview Sunday with "60 Minutes." I'm pleased to see that CBS (yes, BNET's corporate overlord), actually thought about how to milk the interview online, both BY POSTING extensive B-roll, and making sure that there were actually commercials appended to the online video from which the network could make money. (A clip in which O'Brien takes Steve Kroft for a spin in his 1992 Ford Taurus is above.)

All told, CBS uploaded roughly a dozen clips from the interview, including a number of outtakes. The clips were supported by ads for General Motors' OnStar, Crest toothpaste, Bud Light (at right), Canadian Tourism, the Broadway show "Million Dollar Quartet" and more. Although the number of views for these clips is small, it's an impressive example of how to take the TV content you've already got in the can and exploit it on other platforms, instead of treating online as a complete afterthought. (I should point out that CBS and YouTube have had a content deal for some time, but there are plenty of press releases floating around the media industry that never result in anything concrete.)

So why make a deal of this? Because it doesn't happen often enough -- something I've been more and more aware of ever since Comedy Central decided to disentangle itself from Hulu a few months ago. Since that time, the network has done nothing to capitalize on the many distribution channels that routinely carry the show. Without Hulu, I'm likely to watch "The Daily Show" and "The Colbert Report" on Gawker, or The Huffington Post, both of which are slavishly devoted to posting clips from the previous night. But those clips never contain any pre-roll advertising with which, at the very least, Comedy Central could do a nice revenue split with the sites on which it clips were running. The ad adjacencies to those clips all benefit the host site -- not Comedy Central.

Even worse, today, when I took a trip by the Comedy Central site to see whether there was at least pre-roll advertising with clips of those shows, I found that the appearance of advertising was spotty. Sometimes there was; sometimes there wasn't. Contrast that to when Comedy Central shows were running on Hulu, where they were always supported by advertising. So, remind me again Comedy Central, what was the point of going off of Hulu?