The network is developing original stories of the upcoming new drama exclusively for the Web–all part of a multiplatform strategy.
Following in the footsteps of ABC’s Lost, CBS’s new drama series Jericho will have original, supplemental stories that appear exclusively on the Internet, said Nancy Tellem, president of CBS Paramount Network Television Entertainment Group at the TV Critics Association summer press tour in Pasadena yesterday.
Such a digital deal makes sense for Jericho, which is produced by CBS Paramount Network Television and thus wholly owned by CBS Corp. Jericho, which debuts this fall, stars Deadwood’s Gerald McRaney and Into the West’s Skeet Ulrich as an estranged father and son in a small town that may be the only town in the country to survive a nuclear attack.
“In this situation, we spoke to them from the outset, and these ideas were coming from the producers as well,ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â said. Tellem. “Obviously, they see the value of being on as many platforms as they can to promote the show. They were interested in finding organic way to be on these other platforms, so this naturally evolved out of the development process.ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â
Tellem eventually wants to see digital extensions for all of CBS’s shows, she said.
“We are working closely with every single one of our programs to extend our brands online or on wireless,ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â she said. “The focus is really to invest the viewer even further.ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â
Still, thus far only Jerichowill receive such treatment, Tellem said.
Networks have quickly found that it’s easier to add digital extensions to shows they wholly own, such as Jericho. ABC’s Lost, which has experimented with podcasts and an online interactive game; or NBC’s The Office, which started airing original Web-only episodes last week. It’s more difficult to negotiate digital rights for shows that are produced by a studio unaffiliated with the network.
“There’s still no template for these deals,ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â said CBS Chairman Leslie Moonves in an impromptu interview at CBS’s party at the Rose Bowl on Sunday night. “It’s all still too new.ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â
All year, CBS has been expanding its digital platforms, with CBS Digital President Larry Kramer pushing out content in all directions.
The network’s online offering of the NCAA basketball tournament in March was considered enormously successful in the industry, both for the number of people who accessed the games and for advertisers.
In the past month, the network has added Innertube.com, a broadband-only entertainment network that offers clips and episodes from CBS as well as original, online-exclusive programming, and Showbuzz.com, an online entertainment magazine. In its short life, Showbuzz.com already has received 530,000 unique visitors who have looked at nearly 8 million page viewers, Kramer said.
And Sunday morning, CBS News and Sports President Sean McManus outlined a number of digital initiatives that will be undertaken by the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric come fall.
“This has been a very busy year for us at CBS,ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â Kramer said. We’ve been testing every new platform. We’ve learned a lot and we’ll continue to learn a lot. We think we’re in for an amazing ride in the coming year.ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â