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After Leaving CBSNews.Com, What's Trending Doubles Viewership, Plans to Launch Web Spin-Offs

A deal with a TV network has been the sought-after carrot for many producers in the Web video business. After all, someone else to pay the bills, finance the production, and distribute the show. Sounds fabulous.

But sometimes a Web video show does better on its own. After a swift and public split from CBSNews this fall, Web talk show What’s Trending has finished the first season with double the viewership it generated while on CBSnews.com  for the first few months of its run. What’s Trending ended the year averaging about 84,000 views per weekly episode across YouTube, iTunes, livestr eam.com, ustream and blip, more than twice what it had garnered when it also had CBSnews.com in the mix, the show’s producers at Disrupt/Group said. But after a show employee erroneously tweeted the death of Steve Jobs in early September, CBSNews.com pulled “What’s Trending” from its site. Disrupt/Group continued to produce the show independently.

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Now, executive producers Damon Berger and Shira Lazar, who are also hosts, are working on a second season and they have big plans. The show will return in the first quarter of 2012 with Lazar as host of the flagship show, while the pair will launch “What’s Trending” spin-offs in politics, business and other areas. Berger said he’s currently talking to advertisers in auto, consumer packaged goods, technology and other categories about sponsorships ranging from pre-rolls to brand integration.

“We want to build a network of shows around trending topics online,” he said. Lazar said they also hope to add technology elements that weave in tracking and trending technology into the fabric of the show. The first season ran 30 episodes from May 17 to December 6 and featured guests such as Adam Carolla, Drew Carey, Felicia Day, Kevin Smith, Lisa Kudrow, Mark Cuban, Morgan Spurlock, Snoop Dogg and Terrell Owens.

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