CBS' Eyelab to Encourage Engagement
I haven’t been the most active blogger this week, but that’s because I’ve been engaged in engagement, an advertising/marketing term of art that describes the measurement of how much people really love a show. That dovetails nicely with this announcement from CBS about Eyelab, described by CBS as “an editing studio for creating CBS-based content across interactive platforms.”
OK, it’s another mash-up site, big deal. But the reason I bring this up in the context of engagement is because getting fans to interact with your content through mash-ups and other online projects is about as sticky as it gets out there. If fans of CSI or Cane or Gossip Girl are spending time turning clips into original content, they are definitely engaged. In fact, they’ve bought in hook, line and sinker.
This is one big reason Google paid $1.65 billion for YouTube: 55 million unique visitors per month uploading videos they’ve made and clicking on content because they really want to see it equals a lot of very engaged eyeballs and thus a lot of ad dollars.
What I think will motivate that odd but clearly self-motivated person with a fair amount of time on his hands to come to CBS Eyelab and create videos and promos is the chance to get that creation seen across CBS.com and the CBS Audience Network. In fact, the idea was inspired at CBS by a YouTube video/mash-up of CSI Miami’s Horatio Cane, played by David Caruso, uttering his famous one-liners at the start of every show. More than 1 million viewers have watched that video, according to CBS, not to mention that they played the clip at their upfront presentation in May.
The Internet has become one big talent incubation pool (although talent is a term that should be used loosely, please refer back to Chris Crocker) and the networks aren’t afraid to mine it for all it’s worth. If American Idol can find Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood (okay, and also Sanjaya and many other disasters), the Internet can too and for far less money.
And while people love their TV shows, short-form video is all the rage on the Internet. A short video equals a quick break at work, and even I have to admit to watching “The Landlord” and “D**k in a Box” at least 20 times each. (Maybe even more for the latter. What can I say? I’m a sucker for JT.) It’s far easier to grab a cup of coffee and check out a video or two on YouTube than watch an entire episode of Grey’s Anatomy on ABC.com. (Plus, I’d rather watch my McBoys on the big screen any day.)
With user-generated video the trend du jour, everyone wants to get into the act, although they are still trying to figure out how. Even high-brow PBS is creating a site called PBS Engage that will offer social networking features and the ability for users to mash-up cleared PBS content. PBS even plans to use the feature to locate the next generation of independent film talent, which means we won’t be seeing a lot of user-generated videos of dogs on skateboards on the site.
Other networks will do similar things, although many of them have the hurdle of clearing the clips. CBS produces many of its own shows, or owns at least half the rights, making that process a bit easier for it. However, Universal Media Studios produces House for Fox, for example, which means Fox would have to get the rights from Universal before allowing people to use the show’s clips for mash-ups or anything else.
Still, granting those rights and generating that engagement makes good business sense for all involved, so don’t be surprised if one of these days we see Dr. House trying to cure what’s wrong with Chris Crocker, or Horatio Cane trying to track down what ever happened to Sanjaya.